A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this witty, worldly dramedy about a lesbian couple whose teenage children decide to acquaint themselves with their sperm-donor father deals frankly (and compassionately) with all of the complications that could arise in that situation -- including marital discord, infidelity, biological identity, nature vs. nurture, and letting go of a child on the brink of adulthood. Thanks to those themes and some other fairly mature content -- including partial nudity (breasts, buttocks) during sex scenes, clips from a pornographic movie, swearing, and teenage drinking and drug use -- The Kids Are All Right is best for older teenagers and adults.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and her brother Laser (Josh Hutcherson) have never known their father's identity; their moms -- Nic (Annette Bening), a doctor, and Jules (Julianne Moore), a fledgling landscape artist -- used a sperm bank to get pregnant. Once Joni turns 18, Laser urges her to take advantage of her right to find out who the anonymous donor was. Nic and Jules are concerned, but they agree to meet the “bio-dad,” a free-spirited, organic-farming restaurateur named Paul (Mark Ruffalo). The introduction goes fairly smoothly, but a bumpy road lies ahead ... especially when Jules starts designing Paul’s backyard and the kids decide it’s time to get to know him better.
Is it any good?
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT is more than all right. It may be known for the fact that it's a movie about same-sex parenting, but beyond that, it's a smart, funny, and affecting look at modern-day relationships and the daily -- and, in this case, outsized -- pressures that erode their foundation. Parenting is exhausting, couplehood can be draining, and making messes is much too tempting. It’s difficult terrain no matter who's in your family.
Part of what makes the movie refreshing is that there are no villains here -- just adults and, to a lesser degree, teens trying to make sense of their complexities, desires, and confusions. In short, trying to be all right. The three leads show off their ferocious gifts with surety, and the kids -- Wasikowska, especially -- skillfully keep up. The script isn’t without its weak spots: What compels Jules to take up with Paul is a mystery, for instance (and no, his scruffy good looks alone don’t explain it). But that's a minor quibble.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the troubles that Nic and Jules face as parents and partners. What does the movie say about relationships and parenting?
What makes someone a good parent? How does the media typically portray parents? Do the parents in this movie seem more or less realistic to you than those in other movies/TV shows? Why?
How does the movie portray teen drinking and drug use? Are there consequences for the behavior? What do you think would happen in real life?
- In theaters: July 9, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: November 16, 2010
- Cast: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo
- Director: Lisa Cholodenko
- Studio: Focus Features
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong sexual content, nudity, language and some teen drug and alcohol use