As 18-year-old Joni prepares to make the transition to college, fifteen-year-old Laser he wants to learn about their sperm donor father. Laser finally pressures Joni to track him down, and as Paul, their father, becomes involved with the family, allegiances shift and complications arise. The cast consists of Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson. Their performances capture the hilarious as well as the painful aspects of the often-awkward situations. The perfect pacing lets emotions register and exchanges play out with important pauses and silence as an ingredient. I think there are a few missteps in the plot, but on the whole the psychological honesty is as rare as it is instructive.
With multiple awards and nominations, the film is high profile. It received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture of last year, Ruffalo and Bening both received acting nominations, and the screenplay was also singled out for a Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen nomination. And the film won the Golden Globe for best picture with Bening winning for best actress, and Moore also nominated in that category. I mention these awards to increase the film's appeal, while its real worth resides in the very personal, intimate story it tells. Often such films fly under the radar.
I hope The Kids Are All Right doesn't because it has a lot to say about how families—parents and children, siblings and relatives of all sorts—support and challenge each other. It shows how complicated relationships are, especially long-standing ones, and it shows how important it is to nurture those closest.
The Kids Are All Right screens at Webster University's Winifred Moore auditorium on Thursday, May 19th at 7:30 p.m. with analysis immediately following the film by Lenita Newberg, MSW, LCSW. For more information and the current schedule, you may call 314-968-7487 or you may go to the web at: www.Webster.edu/film series.