THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT, Lisa Chodolenko (2010)

Sometimes I don’t think clear at all, how come, yesterday, two days after the Oscar rewards, I decided to go to the cinema to see Black Swan? Am I stupid or what? Although I arrived 10 minutes before the session started, there was such queue it was impossible for me to get the ticket on time, and I got the rule never to watch a film already started, at least at the movies. Thus, I had two options: buy a ticket for the following showing and come back home and wait for 2 hours (I gotta say, cinema is 5 minutes far from home, I’m lucky!), or watch something else. I chose  the second.
Although I want to see True Grit, and reviews are praising Jeff Bridges, an actor I adore, I wasn’t in the mood for a western. There were a couple more options, but eventually I decided to see The Kids Are All Right. I find Julianne Moore very consistent in her performances and quite personal.
Anyway, I hadn’t the slightest idea of what the plot was about, and felt a bit scared thinking my choice had been wrong.
This film follows the pattern Little Miss Sunshine opened few years ago, focusing on an unconventional family and their issues.
Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) are two married lesbians which conceived their two kids, Joni and Laser by means of an anonymous sperm donor. Nic is a gyno specialist and Jules is the kind of hippie who starts many ideal projects but at the end of the day, they all fail.

 Joni, about to start college, is now 18, and her brother is pushing her to call the sperm bank company in order to find out who the donor is, and if possible meet him. When receiving the phone call asking if he agrees to identify himself as the donor to the kids, so they can contact him, Paul (Mark Ruffalo) immediately accepts, encouraging the meeting, with the mums unaware of such.
Paul and Joni get really on well, but Laser finds Paul quite showy and away from his likes. Paul is delighted with the kids and want to get in touch. His only commitment is his organic restaurant, he’s never been married and has no ties, and feels the need to get close to them.
Eventually the mums find out that the kids have contacted with the donor, and immediately want to set a limit  and fix everything by meeting him, thinking once everybody gets to know each other, there won’t be more contact. Instead, kids start adoring Paul and sharing time with him and Jules start working on his garden designing, excluding Nic from any plan, which will cause tension and problems, putting at risk not only her relationship with Joni and Laser, but also her marriage.

 The two lesbian mothers as the axis of the story is not casual, the director, Lisa Chodolenko,  admitted the screenplay was based or inspired in a similar situation with her partner, considering pregnancy by means of an anonymous donor. With this “advantage” or knowledge on the subject, she’s able to portrait this weird family in a realistic manner. Although I’m quite open minded and at this point such things do not surprise me, raised by average hetero parents, it’s shocking the missing father figure in this case. It’s true, roles are quite clear among the couple, it doesn’t matter both women are very masculine in their attitudes and behavior, there’s always a man, and a woman, being the masculine role strict and demanding, and the feminine sweeter and more permissive, but anyway, in my mind the alfa male role in the family is essential. And this not only happens to me, but to Joni and Laser, translated into curiosity, the need for a father brings out the sudden attachment to Paul.
What about Paul? He is the prototype of attractive middle-man, who’s succeeded in his business working really hard, but still takes life as easy as he gets, as if he was still in his 20’s-30’s, flirting with young girls, riding his motorbike…his life is irresistibly attractive to the kids, who find in him a mate, who is more in touch with their daily problems and seems to understand their needs better. The truth is that  they do not comprehend what bringing up and educating children really mean, and despise their mothers’ super protective attitude, getting more attached to super cool Paul, who not only does not judge them but also flatters them continuously, and thinks whatever they do is cool.
Paul is not a bad guy though, he assumes a nonexistent responsibility towards the kids just because at the end of the day he feels lonely and empty and wants to be part of a family. The problem is that instead of building his family entourage by himself, he chooses the fast and easiest way by trying to fit in this family with an excuse good enough to make believe everyone it could work out. All of a sudden, Paul is there, ready to support anyone in the family, causing confusion and chaos in the same, no matter he only wants the best for them.

 What would happen to you if all of a sudden a stranger knocks at your door and says something like “Hey! I’m your brother!”? how would you react? Would you try to recover lost time? Would you just forget about it? Such things need to be treated carefully, otherwise the foundations of your family might be affected, accustomed to certain life, sudden changes can bring you happiness but also destroy what you have. You got to think of the possible consequences. Had Paul ever thought what his wanking for money would mean in the future? Obviously not, and it’s nothing to blame for…it’s kind of twisted what Laser wants, nonetheless understandable considering the family he comes from.
Drama treated with a big dose of humor, The Kids Are All Right, is an easy watching film, not as stunning as Little Miss Sunshine or Happiness, but moving on the same path. You might like it.

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