The film was written (with Stuart Blumberg) and directed by Lisa Cholodenko, a lesbian mom herself.
The Kids Are All Right is a heart-wrenchingly real depiction of American family life, especially from an LGBT perspective. It is also laugh-out-loud, gasping-for-air funny. However, as I told my husband on the way out, "There's an awful lot of heterosexual sex in that movie for a lesbian comedy!" He pointed out that there's a fair amount of depiction of gay sexuality as well, with multiple kisses and affection between Jules(played by Julianne) and Nic (played by Annette), not to mention the entire "gay man porn" subplot.
The basic premise is that the two kids, Joni (played by Wasikowska) and Laser (played by Hutcherson) become curious about their father and make contact with him. Since Joni is 18, she has to make the call to the sperm bank, at the request of her rambunctious 15-year-old brother. But it is another member of the family who ends up making a significant connection with Ruffalo's Paul, who is played with excessive charm.
As a matter of fact, all the acting is superb, with Annette and Bening leading the pack. Annette's Nic is fragile, funny and domineering, but fiercely loves her family. Julianne's Jules is spacey, beautiful and (often inadvertently) hysterically funny. This film should get them both back into the Oscar nominations discussion, and may even win one or both of these beautifully aging actresses (Annette, 51; Julianne, 49) that little gold statuette they have been denied for years.
The writing is astonishing. All of the characters are flawed, but also appealing in some way. Just like in real life. Although some critics have taken issue with the degree of accuracy or fidelity in the depiction of lesbian sexuality as well as the non-depiction of people of color in a positive light,
overall I would argue this is a must-see film for most regular film goers.
(On a side note, it was pretty surreal to watch the final scenes of the movie and yell out "Hey, that's Occidental College!" Joni goes off to college, and the place she picks just happens to be the place at which I teach and work. Go figure. It's silly, but that familiar aspect, as well as the distinctive shots of Los Angeles gave the film an especially high emotional resonance with me.)
Running Time: 1 hour, 46 minutes. MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some teen drug and alcohol use.
Overall Grade: A (4.0/4.0).