Repackaging Conventional Values for Unconventional Families in Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right
By Tony Mueller
The Kids Are Alright was produced and marketed with a specific audience in mind. Like past indie dramedies Juno, Away We Go, and 500 Days of Summer, this Sundance favorite is targeted directly at urban, liberal, intelligent filmgoers. It hits its target. The film succeeds in large measure, as those other films do, because The Kids Are Alright successfully combines a creative script, engaging characters, and a stellar cast to tell a slightly offbeat story that explores the unique facets of contemporary relationships.
The film stars Julianne Moore and Annette Bening as a lesbian couple whose teenage kids have grown old enough to satisfy their own curiosity about the sperm donor father they’ve never met. The older sister agrees to contact their father (Mark Ruffalo) at the insistence of her sensitive younger brother, but without permission of their moms. As the family members welcome him into their lives, each character is changed, for better and worse, by the new relationship. The new man in their lives emerges as a charming, somewhat self-centered, hipster whose laissez-faire attitude masks a deeper restlessness and loneliness. His arrival provides the catalyst to shake up the quiet, rather insulated life of a family who are more conventional than they appear.