DVD Movie Review: A Modern Day Family Dramedy

The Kids Are All Right

Nic and Jules are in a long-term, committed and loving relationship -- raising two teenagers while balancing home and work lives. Like most couples, they're happy -- but things are by no means perfect. Pretty normal. So, what makes this a different story? Well, Nic and Jules just happen to be lesbians. Annette Bening plays Nic, a doctor, primary breadwinner and the stricter parent. Julianne Moore is Jules, the more laid-back stay-at-home mom. With the kids getting older, Jules is trying to get a new business off-the-ground, but that's just one factor adding stress to the relationship.

We learn that each woman had given birth to one of the two kids using the same anonymous sperm donor. As daughter Joni (Mia Wasikowska) readies to leave for college, her curious younger brother Laser (Josh Hutcherson) asks her to contact the sperm bank in order to meet their biological father. When their father (Zodiac's Mark Ruffalo) enters the family's lives -- not only do the kids have to learn to adjust, but Nic and Jules face an unexpected turn of events that will truly test their relationship.

Directed by Lisa Cholodenko (High Art, Laurel Canyon) -- and written by Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg -- the film is an entertaining family dramedy strengthened by stellar acting from a great cast. As usual, Moore (A Single Man) and Ruffalo are terrific -- and so are Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) and Hutcherson (Journey to the Center of the Earth). If you're going to make a film where younger actors play integral roles, you better nail the casting. And here, the filmmakers did. Bening is especially outstanding -- I honestly had forgotten what a great actress she is -- and without a doubt, she'll gain a well-deserved fourth Oscar nomination (The Grifters, American Beauty, Being Julia). My only gripe with the film is that part of the story veered off and didn't seem completely believable -- and that's the only reason you won't see a higher grade from me below. Still, a must-see. [Rated R; released on DVD and Blu-ray today]

Grade: B+


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