Whereas Director Todd Solondz takes dysfunction, like, six notches further with films like Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness – and something like Meet The Fockers turns turbulent family dynamics into a full-blown comedy, The Kids Are All Right strikes a balance between drama, shock value, squirm and sap. It’s an enjoyable emotional ride with lots of laughs and just enough heartache.
Right off the bat, we experience a typical family dinner scene – talking about homework, nagging about writing thank you cards, no answering the phone at the table, etc. It’s clear this is a normal family, despite one unconventional thing-two moms. Two hot moms: Nic (Annette Benning) and Jules (Julianne Moore).
The kids Joni and Laser (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson) are the result of free spirit Paul’s (Mark Ruffalo- grrr!) artificial insemination. Upon turning eighteen, they set out to meet him, then afterward tell the moms, who are less than impressed but eventually cave and invite sperm Daddy to dinner. I won’t ruin the story or anything, but sexual preferences are called into question, there’s strawberry rhubarb pie involved, and lots of fun when wine is consumed quickly.
Like every good dysfunctional family film (isn’t dysfunctional the new norm now?) we move from the dinner table to a steamy oral sex scene. Yummy. Julianne Moore goes down on Annette Benning under the covers while watching a porno consisting of two gay dudes in denim dancing around in what appears to be a desert, or something. Hey, whatever turns you on.
There’s a lot of awkward family moments that evoke a heh-heh – which indicates partial humour and partial “help, I don’t know how to react so I am nervously heh-hehing.” A particularly painful scene involved Anette Benning singing Joni Mitchell’s All I Want for what seemed to be a time without end. We were reminded of our mom endlessly dancing to Tina Turner with robot-aerobic arms. *Shudder*.
And just like mom’s ridiculous “What’s Love Got To Do With It” routine that surfaces (after a few) at weddings and Thanksgiving Dinner, this film will make you laugh, squirm and conjure up your very best fuzzy family memories. Awww and eeeeww all at once.