'The Kids Are All Right' was the first independent movie to garner some serious Oscar buzz this year. Not a shocker, as it stars perennial Academy favorites, Julianne Moore and Annette Bening, and features a hot-button topic, gay marriage.
But here's the thing: The movie isn't actually about gay marriage. It's about a brother, who convinces his just-turned-18 sister to find out who their sperm donor father is, and the subsequent interactions of that father with the nuclear family. It's a totally average family - angsty sibling and his older, put-upon sister; tired parents just trying to do right by their kids and keep any semblance of their own selves. Anyone who's ever had a long-term partner will recognize aspects of their relationship in the one being shown on screen. And that's the point, politically-speaking: Completely intentionally, this film makes a statement about gay marriage by not making one.
A lot of weight is put on Mark Ruffalo and his sexual appeal - it's basically the crux of this movie, the kids' and their mothers' varying levels of ability/willingness to resist his charm. He's rocking the salt and pepper hair and it's-been-exactly-three-weeks-since-I-shaved-that's-how-effortless-this-is look, and in general is all smolder. For me, it tipped a bit to the smarmy side - it was like everyone else in the movie had to be extra pale so it was clear how tan and handsome and desirable Ruffalo is.
Speaking of pale, it was really fun watching Julianne Moore be spacy and kind of generally inept. I feel like I'm always watching her as a Strong Woman and it had long grown boring (I'm talking to you 'The Forgotten' and that one about the abandoned orphanage.). So watching her be the ditzy one was a nice reminder of what a great actress she can really be.
My main issue with this movie was how heavily it, at certain points, echoed one of my favorites - a little seen beaut called 'Something New.' On its surface, 'Something New' is about the challenges of interracial dating, but, just like 'The Kids are All Right,' it's also this beautifully shot, incredibly colorful love poem to the non-entertainment side of LA, a side all about native plant-heavy landscape architecture and farm-to-table restaurants.
But, I suppose, if my main issue with a movie is that it's too much like one of my favorites, I'm kind of stretching for complaints.
8 Twix bars!