The Kids Are All Right **1/2 out of ****

The Kids Are All Right is really just alright.  I don’t see what all the fuss is about.  It is a decently written movie that is decently acted and decently directed.  The fact that the two main women Jules and Nick (Bening & Moore) happen to be very good actresses that happen to play a lesbian couple seems to over-exaggerate their performances, which are both good.  Ruffalo’s character, Paul, is a very laid back yet successful restaurant owner who has found out that he is the father, via sperm donor, of the lesbian couple’s kids, Joni and Laser, (Mia Wasikowska & Josh Hutcherson) who happen to be very normal kids. 
The movie is nothing special.  The acting is slightly above average though I would give the nod to Julianne Moore over Annette Bening and would consider Wasikowska’s performance above them all.  The fact that this film is considered a comedy causes the audience to take the subject matter of the film less seriously, but since the film is about a lesbian couple, we are meant to take the film as a whole very seriously, indeed. 
Mom #1 (Nick) is a doctor who requires organization and Mom #2 (Jules) is much more laid back and can’t figure out what she wants to do professionally.  Nick is the bread-winner and Jules is the victim of much nagging from Nick, who constantly stays on her regarding her lack of ambition and commitment.  Joni gets straight A’s and Laser is a jock.  The main question I have is this, how many different colored 2009 Bonarroo shirts do these characters have to wear before the filmmaker is convinced that we GET IT.  This is not your typical, conventional family.  Mission accomplished.
The film tries to be really funny, but doesn’t quite get there.  It confuses shock value with comedy.  The film tries to get dark, but doesn’t quite get there, either.  The film tries to get awkward, but really the whole film is awkward.
Perhaps my critical eyes have become keener upon watching this film due to all of the buzz that this film has gotten over the past year.  There are talks of Bening winning Best Actress.  I can’t help but think that this would be more of a lifetime achievement award because her performance in The Kids Are All Right was not at all Oscar-worthy.  Her performance is in no way close to Natalie Portman’s in Black Swan.  If they wanted to give Bening the Oscar, they should shoe-horn her into the Supporting Actress category.  True Grit’s Hailee Steinfeld is the frontrunner there followed closely by The Fighter’s Amy Adams and Melissa Leo.  But none of that really matters if the Academy is bent upon award Bening.  They can make easier excuses in this category because Steinfeld is young and Adams and Leo are destined for multiple Oscars sooner or later.
 It’s also been mentioned in the Best Picture race.  I can’t help but think this has more to do with what the film is about than the actual level of filmmaking.  The Kids Are All Right is a decent movie, but by no means is it in the top 10 of the year.  If you’re like me and you want to have a clue about what’s going on Oscar night, then see the film.  
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