The Kids Are All Right

Smart, funny comedy/drama that stars Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as a Los Angeles-based lesbian couple of many years, whose two teen children decide to seek out their anonymous sperm donor father. When he turns out to be a super-dude restaurateur played by Mark Ruffalo, the family gets turned upside down.

Cholodenko, who wrote the script with Stuart Blumberg, takes the standard plot device of a content middle-class family invaded by a mysterious stranger and injects it with warmth and truth: there is nothing malicious about Ruffalo's intentions, yet he takes over the family anyway, as if he senses an absence of a father/husband figure that nobody in the family had been looking to fill. Happily, sexual politics are kept in the subtext, and Cholodenko proves once again that she is most interested in developing her characters.

As in her previous features High Art and Laurel Canyon, the openly gay Cholodenko uses her story to explore the fluidity of female sexuality, but The Kids Are All Right is a far more spirited outing than its predecessors. And while you may interpret this as "more audience-friendly", it doesn't mean it's stupider, or even more mainstream. This sexually frank film proudly wears its R rating on its sleeve, even if its ending is on the warm fuzzy side. Bening, Moore, and Ruffalo are all excellent, and there's not a dishonest moment in the script. A pleasant summertime treat for the adult moviegoer.