Review of “The Kids Are All Right”

What makes a good gay movie? Is it a movie that makes gays look good? Or is it a movie that makes gays look real?

I would argue, with my last breath, that what makes a gay movie good is not the deification of its gay character. It’s not even the happily ever after. It’s the truth it tells. Of course, telling the truth isn’t easy — it’s often messy. People get hurt, because that’s what the truth does.

The Kids Are All Right is all those things: difficult, messy, painful. It’s also funny, loving and — most important — true. Director Lisa Cholodenko (High Art, Laurel Canyon ) has made unquestionably the best movie about a marriage you’ll see all year, if not for many, many more to come.

At its heart is a family. That they’re a gay family is almost incidental, almost. Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) have been together some 20 years and have two kids: Joni, named after Joni Mitchell (Alice in Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska) and Laser — yes, Laser — (Josh Hutcherson).

They live a happy upper middle-class existence with a nice house and Volvo SUV. Nic is an OBGYN. Jules has flitted from professions — architecture, Balinese furniture and now landscape design. Their kids seem, well, all right. Joni just turned 18 and is taking her straight-As to college when summer is over. Laser is 15 and has a best friend who likes to knock over trash cans.

Laser, perhaps a longing for a better grade of testosterone in his life, begs Joni to contact the cryobank to find their biological father. Their “momses,” as they call Nic and Jules, each used the same anonymous sperm donor to have them years ago. So into their seemingly tranquil, utterly mundane lives rides Paul.

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