Oh, the thing you hate the worst, a film that is the darling of critics everywhere for being so amazing, incredible, and thought provoking, with deep characters woven into the fabric of tantalizing storyline... That isn't!
Some of the above are the expectations many will go into The Kids Are All Right wearing like the team colors of their favorite college footballers, though the unfortunate truth is the movie is pedestrian film making, filled with marginally interesting characters, sketchy motivations, unreal revelations, and wasted opportunities for any real drama.
Writer/Director Lisa Cholodenko should've really stopped herself at some point and asked, except for the lesbian angle, is this story anything more or less than a soap opera that (if it were a man/woman couple involved) at its core has nothing revelatory to say, with characters about as deep as a petri dish?
Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play Nic and Jules, a lesbian couple that eighteen and fifteen years ago (respectively) each had a baby, using the same sperm donor, so that the kids would at least be half biological siblings (so the film explains).
Joni (Mia Wasikowska), Nic's biological daughter, has just turned eighteen and can now petition the sperm bank for information about her biological father/mother's sperm donor. Joni isn't all that interested at first, but at the insistence of her fifteen year old half-brother Laser (Josh Hutcherson, once again playing much younger than his vintage), she calls and makes contact with Paul (Mark Ruffalo) a laid back, free spirited horn-dog that owns a small restaurant.
What ensues is bonding, uneasiness, denial, betrayal, and deep emotional wounds, all the stuff that make for great character driven drama... Except here. Motivations seem muddled, emotions stilted, developmental interaction between characters seems short changed.
The pacing doesn't help either as the film meanders from scene to scene with all the urgency of a Horton Foote stage play, but the main problem is that the audience never gets involved with these rather dull characters caught up in this quirky set up. And, when the set up for a character dramedy is more interesting than the characters that inhabit it... You have serious problems.
I wish I could say the performances help, but here they hinder, as I never bought Bening and Moore as anything but giving it the old L-Word try, but not selling me on it. Wasikowska is beautiful but moribund, Hutcherson has nothing to work with (as his character is under-written), and Ruffalo works hard to achieve ambiguity.
So, although The Kids Are All Right is the undisputed favored child of other critics, whatever they saw in it, I didn't see. And if it takes a read between the lines, insert your own idea here, mentality to enjoy this film, then the richness that others may say the movie has, just might've been in their own minds from the outset.