Movie review: "The Kids Are All Right"

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Since its debut at last January's Sundance Film Festival, the endearing indie gem "The Kids Are All Right" has been getting high praise for being a comedic slice-of-life arthouse flick that tackles a very unusual and somewhat uncomfortable situation.

It deserves every bit of that praise.

The events of "All Right" take place during the summer after Joni's ("Alice's" Mia Wasikowska) high school graduation.

Normally, this would be the story of two parents letting go and acknowledging their daughter's budding adulthood. Here, the twist is that her parents are a lesbian couple who conceived her (and her brother) through the use of a sperm donor.

Pressured by half-brother Laser (Josh Hutcherson), Joni tries to reach out to her biological father and comes back with Paul (Mark Ruffalo), the bearded hipster owner of an organic restaurant and garden.

Despite the situation, the three start bonding - mostly because of Paul's effortless coolness, which doesn't sit well with moms Nic (an amazingly restrained Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore). Jules eventually starts to come around when Paul offers to be her first landscaping client, but Nic struggles to see him as anything other an interloper stealing away her family.

Director Lisa Cholodenko (who helmed the underappreciated duo of "High Art" and "Laurel Canyon") is smart to keep the film light and lively. That touch prevents it from feeling stale - or, worse, being seen as a niche-market "gay film."

It'd be a real shame if mainstream audiences decided this film "wasn't for them." Thanks to the talented cast and deft direction, "The Kids Are All Right" is a subtle film that's entertaining for all.

"The Kids Are All Right"

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3.5 stars out of 4