Plot: What’s it about?
Let’s forget all the battles about gay marriage going on, shall we? This is a movie and we’ll focus on the plot, acting and later how it looks, sounds and the supplemental features. Ok, now that that’s out of the way, we can get started! As I mentioned in my “Winter’s Bone” review, there are some movies out there that don’t really get noticed until they’re showered with accolades by critics and, come award time, they become something to see. “The Kids are All Right” is one of those films and yes, it’s something to see. Writer/Director Lisa Cholodenko has kept her pet project very close to her heart and the movie’s ending might or rather will, polarize viewers. And I will say that if you’re not accustomed to seeing two women together then this might not be the film for you. Suffice it to say that if you made it through “Black Swan” then this one should be cake.
Nic (Annette Bening) is a doctor. She ‘s successful and has been with to Jules (Julianne Moore) for over twenty years now. Life is good, though at some points it’s rather dull and monotonous. They’ve got two children, Laser (Josh Hutcherson) and Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and if the spelling looks familiar, yes she was named after Joni Mitchell. Joni’s just graduated from high school and is off to college in the fall, but due to encouragement from Laser, she decides to use her status as an adult and seek out her birth father. Here’s where things get interesting. As it turns out Paul (Mark Ruffalo), her father, was a sperm donor in college and lives locally and owns and manages a successful local restaurant. Paul’s somewhat of a free spirit who sleeps with the help and has no real intention of ever growing up. So after he meets his “children” as well as Jules and Nic, the film focuses on the relationship between them all. A bit awkward, no? Don’t worry, everything will be all right.
There are some scenes in “The Kids are All Right” that might make some wince and some might be outright disgusted. As for me, I guess I’m desensitized as I didn’t really find anything too terribly offensive. I think women should be able to marry other women and men other men. What’s the big deal? What sets this movie apart from some of the others is that it’s one of the more mainstream films to tackle this subject. And while all might agree with the subject matter, the bottom line is that it’s a solid script with some top notch acting. Ruffalo and Bening were both nominated for Best Actor and Actress respectively and while Moore was left out in the cold, make no mistake that her performance was right up there. While not for everyone, “The Kids are All Right” tells a story that not a lot of movies would and this sort of situation is going on in everyday life. Why not showcase it?
Video: How does it look?
Universal presents “The Kids are All Right” in a 1.85:1 VC-1 HD transfer that looks exceptional. Colors are very bold and strong and detail is simply amazing. You can see all the freckles on Julianne Moore’s face, the individual grey hairs in Ruffalo’s beard and everything in between. This is a bright, vivid palette that utilizes most every color in the spectrum. There are only a handful of scenes indoors or in dark surroundings, but they’re handled with care. Truthfully I wasn’t too concerned with how this would look and was actually expecting it to look a lot worse than it did, but thankfully none of that was an issue.
Audio: How does it sound?
If I were to make a list of the ten Best Picture nominees and rank them in terms of sound, this movie would be near the bottom of the list. The movie is almost entirely dialogue-driven and it sounds fine with the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack backing it up. There are a handful of ambient sounds that spring up, but the front stage is certainly busy with the remainder of the mix. I’ve said this countless times, but this soundtrack serves its purpose – nothing more and nothing less.
Supplements: What are the extras?
For such a critically-acclaimed film, this Blu-ray sports a surprising lack of supplements. We do get a good commentary from writer and director Lisa Cholodenko, who gives us her take on the book and why she chose some of the things she did. It’s a good listen and did help clear a few things up for me. We get a trio of featurettes: “The Journey to Forming a Family”, the obligatory “The Making of ‘The Kids are All Right'” and “The Writer’s Process” which total about ten minutes total for all three. Maybe after seeing how well-received the film was, it’ll be re-issued with some more supplements of substance.