Director: Lisa Cholodenko
Writers: Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg
Cinematographer: Igor Jadue-Lillo
Starring: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Mark Ruffalo, Josh Hutcherson
Studio: Mandalay Visions/Focus Features
…and so are the lesbian parents, and the surrogate father
“Family” is a fairly fluid notion these days, but Hollywood has been awfully slow to catch up to the zeitgeist: from the Griswolds to the Tenenbaums, the all-American nuclear clan has been a steady mom-dad-sister-brother affair, at least on film. But The Kids Are All Right, the latest from writer/director Lisa Cholodenko (High Art, Laurel Canyon), shows that the white-picket-fence fantasy doesn’t have to be so heteronormative. Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening), are a married couple raising a pair of bright, engaging teens (Joni, played by Mia Wasikowska, and Laser, played by Josh Hutcherson) in an enviable little cottage in an idyllic California enclave. Both Jules and Nic carried a child, via artificial insemination from the same donor—the irascible, willfully uncommitted Paul (Mark Ruffalo). On Joni’s 18th birthday, after Laser convinces her to track Paul down, they slowly incorporate him into the family. There are a few narrative hiccups (Paul, an organic farmer and restaurant owner, needs to hire Jules to help landscape his messy backyard?), and in the wrong hands, the story could have become overwrought or distractingly didactic. But for Cholodenko, the politics are almost incidental. Funny and warm, The Kids Are All Right focuses, instead, on what really defines family: love and forgiveness.