Other movies start out so bad that you often don’t even make it to the end – even though occasionally things improve.
The Kids are All Right fits into the second category.
Luckily, because I’m too cheap to walk out on $13.50, I stayed for the entirety. Despite starting out miserably, the film gets a lot better as it goes on.
The dramedy is loosely about a lesbian couple happily raising their children when the pesky sperm donor shows up.
For the first half of the movie, all I could think of is how uncomfortable I was with everything happening on screen. Nic (Annette Benning) and Jules (Julianne Moore) are over the top and kind of creepy. While both are brilliant actors, they had little chemistry as a couple which makes their interactions and displays of affection feel contrived.
In the scene where the two are watching gay male porn and the volume gets turned up, I felt uncomfortable not because of the content, but because it had taken their only sex scene and turned it into lazy joke. It didn’t come across as a “we’ve been together so long our sex lives have fallen apart,” it was just hard to watch.
What’s more, both Benning and Moore’s characters were thoroughly unlikable for much of the movie – Nic is an insufferable control freak, and Jules is her flaky, flower child opposite.
Luckily, things get better when Mark Ruffalo enters the picture – not so much because he had a great character or displayed his best acting chops, but because his character gave Nic and Jules’ relationship troubles some grounding. Jules’ affair was what brought out flaws in Jules (who previously appeared to just not live up to Nic’s unreachable standards) and brought out humanity in Nic.
Despite the title, the movie really isn’t about the kids (which is too bad because Mia Wasikowska is a fantastic actor). It’s about marriage. That’s why the the last 45 minutes were so good. It was raw, more real. Nic stopped being such a shrew and became relatable. Jules’ became a serious character, and delivered a speech (though obvious) that resonated with everyone in the audience
It wasn’t a great movie (don’t even get me started on the Oscar nonsense), but sometimes we just need a movie to reflect how we feel about life.
So if you’ve ever realized how hard a relationship is AND you have nothing to do and want to watch a movie for free on TMN, give this one a shot.