Friday, July 23, 2010
The Kids are All Right
We saw The Kids Are All Right last weekend. The most important thing about The Kids is, as the title tells you, the kids are all right. In fact, I think, they're better than all right. That's important to counteract all the homophobic nonsense about gay men and lesbians parenting children. And I would add that it conforms to every gay and lesbian household I personally know. The same, however, is not true of the moms. Nic (Annette Bening) is a doctor and has a full professional life. Jules (Julianne Moore), on the other hand, has done the bulk of the parental chores. Now that the kids are leaving or on the verge of leaving the nest, she is trying to build a work life for herself and getting very little support from Nic, in fact, Nic can be quite derisive, even in front of the kids. I think the reason Nic witholds support is because she is a bit of a control freak and sees Jules building her own work life as a threat, but it's at the core of their problems.
The second most interesting thing about The Kids is that it's a very traditional film. The only contemporary aspect of the film is the lesbian-headed family; otherwise it's a very conventional story that could have been made 20, 40 or even 60 years ago with a man and a woman in the leads. It's essentially about how an existing unit (Nic, Jules, Joni and Laser) are affected when a new force enters the picture. Especially when there is a chink in the original unit (Nic's lack of support for Jules' ambitions).
The new element enters the picture when the kids, particularly Laser, seek out the sperm donor "father" (the same one for both kids) who turns out to be Paul (Mark Ruffalo) a thorougoing womanizer who owns a restaurant. It's his garden that sets the stage for film's real drama. Unlike the unsupportive Nic, Paul can offer Jules her first landscaping job in the garden and is very supportive as she proceeds. She is very grateful and falls into bed with him. As far as I can tell neither of them intended it to happen but not surprisingly it does. One other thing that's important to emphasize is that I don't think Jules ever questions her sexuality - she identifies as a lesbian and continues to be a lesbian. She falls into bed with Paul because she's greatful for his support and unhappy at home - hardly an unusual scenario. It is important to note that after a good deal more drama in the end Jules and Nic remain together.
The moral of this story is that whatever our sexuality, we don't always make the smartest choices, but movies would be unbearably boring if we did. From Jerry Springer to Shakespeare, after all, drama is the product of our human frailties and stupidities. But don't forget the kids are alright. Go see it. It's a very good movie.