Review: Are the kids really all right?

Bri Heath

By Bri Heath

An independent film that has been featured in the Sundance Film Festival, “The Kids Are All Right” stars Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, a lesbian couple named Nic (Bening) and Jules (Moore), with their 18-year-old daughter Joni and 15-year-old son Laser, both children having been a product of a sperm donation.

The story starts with the children Joni and Laser on a quest to acquaint themselves with the sperm donor (their biological father), an easygoing restaurateur named Paul (Mark Ruffalo). Joni and Laser are hesitant at first about meeting their biological father but Joni slowly grows to be fond of him while Laser doesn’t.

Meanwhile, without ties of his own, and because the family wants to connect with him, Paul weaves his way into the family’s lives. But the more involved Paul becomes, the more it creates problems among the family members.

For example, feeling underappreciated by Nic, Jules begins an affair with Paul. A remark she makes to Paul late in the film will undoubtedly irk some real-life lesbians and bisexuals.

Having slept with Paul, Jules tells him she cannot be with him because she identifies herself as “lesbian”, even though, in an earlier scene, she seemed to enjoy having sex with Paul.

Funny moments abound in this light-hearted drama, but a few moments may be lost on those who are not familiar with the challenges of families headed by gay couples. The film’s theme seems to be that the children of gay couples face the same anxieties as those faced by children who grow up in more traditional homes.

(Bri Heath is a City Times contributor)