LISA CHOLODENKO understands the truth.

She knows more about romance and the psychology of the human heart than any director since MIKE NICHOLS. She has also elicited superlative performances from extraordinary actors in her previous films – PATRICIA CLARKSON in HIGH ART and FRANCES McDORMAND in LAUREL CANYON.

The latter features one of the most stunningly honest and erotic scenes of the new millennium: CHRISTIAN BALE and NATASCHA McELHONE sitting in a car in a parking lot, talking about how much they want each other.

All they do is kiss.

But that heightened exchange is so fraught with emotion, sweetness and a hard driving encompassing lust that when she says, “You can work on me all night long,” you fondly remember previous circumstances with the boys in your life and think, Oh yeah…

Been there. Done that. Many times over.

In her new movie THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT (cowritten with STUART BLUMBERG), the situations are much different. But certain longings linger.

JULES (JULIANNE MOORE) and NIC (ANNETTE BENING) have been together for two decades. Nic’s a doctor. Jules is a failed architect who became a stay at home parent and has recently started her own landscaping business.

They have two children: 18 year old JONI (MIA WASIKOWSKA) and LASER (JOSH HUTCHERSON), 15.

Joni’s summer is winding down. Within the next few weeks, she will be leaving home to attend college.

Their parents share a deep connection. They genuinely love each other. However, the spark between them is as faded and dry as the Mojave. They’re not excessively unhappy. But it feels like they’ve been on auto pilot forever.

They’re polar opposites in terms of temperament. Nic is hard, rigid, doesn’t mince words. Frankly, she can be an uptight controlling bitch. Jules is fanciful, fun, easygoing.

The kids have always been curious about their dad. For their mothers, it was a simple trip to the clinic for both of them. But Joni and Laser want to know who he is. They track him down.

When they find him, he’s equally intrigued and extremely interested in his children’s lives.

PAUL (MARK RUFFALO) is a never married motorcycle riding organic farmer/restaurateur with a laid back carefree attitude. For almost every female he meets, he’s the ultimate Mr. Foxy Fox.

He’s the kind of guy that women desperately want to sleep with. But they don’t take him particularly seriously. Initially, you get the sense that that’s really the way he wants it.

But Paul turns out to be hiding a certain amount of depth. In fact, he might very well be coming to a kind of symbolic crossroad as a consequence of early middle age.

His whimsical nature finds a profound symmetry with Jules’ open free spiritedness. When they become drawn into a full blown affair, it’s curiously unsurprising.

But this intense heat is bound to have a horrendous impact on everyone’s lives and future. Commitments wil be tested, hearts will be broken and destinies will shift before everything settles.

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT is an intelligent comedy. There is a defined deftness and clarity to it. It’s exceptionally funny and relatable.

The actors are all terrific.

YAYA DACOSTA is particularly good as Paul’s current casual girlfriend.

MIA WASIKOWSKA never rises to the supreme levels that the others do. But she does some small clever things that show that she definitely understands her character.

The two female leads are both incredibly real. There’s no outward gloss to their respective appearances: minimal or no makeup, low key wardrobes, simple hairstyles. These are not women that live for glamour. They’re too busy doing other things.

JULIANNE MOORE convincingly plays sweet and self effacing.

ANNETTE BENING is not afraid of being unlikable. NIC, unfortunately, is exactly that much of the time. She’s blunt, forthright and not impressed with social graces. She’ll always tell you precisely what she thinks.

If you have a problem with that, she can’t help you.

But, as fine as the other actors are, the picture is completely stolen by MARK RUFFALO.

PAUL is a merry wanderer who hasn’t found himself yet. He has a career that delights him and makes him happy. He’s got a lot of women around that would kill to break the bed with him.

However, he’s just beginning to understand that there may be more to life than drifting through an endless series of flings. Under that big grin and flirtatious manner, there’s serious vulnerability and a desire for some stability.

It’s not only beautifully realized acting. But it’s one of the best performances of the year.

Ms. Cholodenko knows that it’s the people around us that make our lives worthwhile.

Relationships – like family dynamics – are messy, demanding, maddening and frustrating. They’re also fairly essential to any full vibrant existence.

Most days the joys greatly outweigh the sorrows. Everyone needs a place where they can belong.

So the kids are all right. In fact, they’re better than all right.

They’re absolutely splendid.

6 Responses to “THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT ***”

  1. glimmer Says:

    ok i’ve like three times or so decided that sleeping or doing nothing or whatever is better than getting the energy to go see this film.

    so maybe i’ll pull it off some time this week.

    hmm…takes so much for me to do anything. even too much of a change circa now to leave for a film. ha ha…

    He’s the kind of guy that women desperately don’t want to sleep with and they don’t take him particularly seriously.

    had to fix that to make me more geek/loser accurate. yep ms m. i’m losing my mind today…

    the kids are all right. but what about those that never counted as the kids???

  2. My darling boy, you can certainly count as one of the cool kids in my estimation.

    What about the thousands of people that come here every single day and read what you have to say? That must be worth something.

    I think you’re awesome. I wish you understood just how wonderful you are. Some day you will. I’m sure of that.

    I have no idea how you will react to THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT. But Ms. Cholodenko is particularly adept at clearly defining romantic relationships. She understands human behaviour and, above all, love. She’s a wonderful insightful director that’s incredible with actors.


    ********BIG SPOILERS********

    It may interest you to know that Paul doesn’t end up with what he wants. It killed me because MARK’S character really was a decent warm hearted guy.

    Yeah, he liked to spread himself around a little bit. But you got the sense that he was somewhat honourable about it. He was a light hearted dude who liked to have fun. The women who wanted him knew this. He never deceived anyone. What you see is what you get.

    In some ways, he was kind of like Ryan, GEORGE CLOONEY’S character in UP IN THE AIR.

    Paul genuinely fell for Jules. But the main difference is that Jules is a lesbian. She was feeling neglected and alone in her relationship. She needed comfort of some sort. Paul desired her physically and they were alike in terms of personality. In some strange way, he fit the bill.

    But Jules, of course, really finds what she needs with other women. Her partner in particular. There was some kind of mystical chemistry going on between her and Paul. But Paul got emotionally involved and that’s when Jules began to realize that she had to walk away from it.

    She liked Paul. He was definitely Mr. Foxy Fox. But she belonged with someone else.

    They were certainly both to blame for what happened. They’re genuinely good people. But they made a mistake.

    And within the confines of that hot overflowing passion, Paul started to understand that he’d better get serious about his romantic life before it’s too late. Jules and Nic all ready have their own family.

    He has to get out in the world and find his.

    So not even the foxiest boys end up with everything that they’re looking for all the time.

    ********END SPOILERS ********

    Just remember I told you so, glim.

  3. i uh saw this film wednesday.

    and why should i struggle with words when the immortal bop captures my thoughts pretty much dead on…bop does it again.

    Mr. Foxy Fox…did you invent that term ms m.??? πŸ˜‰

    anyway i think foxy fox’s key was yes…chest hair!!! πŸ˜‰

    you think josh hutcherson was better than mia wasikowska???

    yaya dacosta i didn’t know of this person until this film may have to get an eye out on her…

    anyway after the post at a.d. that linked to this article…

    because of this article i was expecting something a bit more subversive/boundry breaking or something but instead the film is *really* pretty trad and could fill a juno/little miss sunshine type slot in award season.

    trad film can’t hate. can’t rave about it. maybe not hating a trad film is enough… πŸ˜‰

    quote from the nypost article

    “The movie industry is doing its best to undermine the American family.”

    hell if it can do anything to undermine andrea peyser/patricia whitehead, i’ll just say three cheers for hollywood. πŸ™‚

    this film is really traditional at heart (as far as values pushes/themes/how it told blah blah) and in no way should it have inspired the insanity of andrea peyser. hell it’s people like her that make me *worry* about the kids. these types are the types that are gonna get their starting blocks on info form.

    oh no…

    andrea makes me think someone should do it for the children/while the andrea types just sit on down. someone think of the children. ha ha…

    the kids are gonna be fine if they just ignore the andreas of the world/i feel a change is coming… πŸ™‚

  4. glim, IMO a lot of what LISA CHOLODENKO was trying to convey in TKAAR is that families that are nontraditional aren’t really any different from the norm.

    So (as much as I appreciate your opinion, my darling…and I really really do) I think that that’s actually the point. She wanted the film to be warm and relatable.

    Families where the two parties raising children are not heterosexual have definitely gained a certain amount of acceptance. But (as hate filled individuals like Andrea Peyser amply illustrate) they still have a long way to go.

    As a committed hot blooded heterosexual feminist, I think that people have to keep pushing until all the barriers have completely broken down.

    My boyfriends have all been Caucasian. It just worked out that way. Simply the luck of the draw. My exes are all lovely adorable gentlemen. So I sure as hell don’t have anything against white men.

    But that era has come and gone.

    I’m sick and tired of seeing gay individuals and people of colour marginalized. Yeah, there have been big changes during the last century. For women too obviously.

    But to me affection and caring – and the right to marry, raise children and have families – aren’t and shouldn’t be the exclusive privilege of heterosexuals. We have come a long way in modern society. There’s much more work to be done.

    glim, I don’t think LISA could have made a more radical movie and have it be a mainstream success. I do believe that her rationale was to show how normal all of this is. You can take things to the wall when there’s more acceptance. I don’t think that this is the time and place.


    But it’s coming. Thank God.

    Really??? I never even noticed MARK’S chest hair. He’s a very attractive man. But I guess I’ve been thinking a lot about a particular someone lately. Even when he’s not here.

    That’s likely why it had no resonance for me. Mmmm. Lost in thought.

    Yeah, MIA (as Joni) had a bigger arc. There was certainly more focus on her. But I thought that JOSH did more with what he had. He fully inhabited his character.

    YAYA DACOSTA was actually the runner up in Season 3 of AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL. I saw her in TAKE THE LEAD and was very impressed. She’s awesome.

    It is true. Words come easily to me. I always say it’s the Irish blood. That probably has something to do with it.

    But, regretfully, Mr. Foxy Fox is not a Mirandacism. That phrase actually originated with VERA FARMIGA. When she gave that tribute to GEORGE CLOONEY at the OSCARS last spring as BEST ACTOR was about to be awarded, that’s what she called GEORGE.

    So it all goes back to VERA. God love her. I think I’m gonna keep using that. It really takes the cake.

    Not to worry. The world will change. Everything will be good. We’ll all get what we want in the end and our lives will be wondrous and filled with light.

    Love makes the world go round, glim. Any kind of love.

    Never forget that.

  5. But, regretfully, Mr. Foxy Fox is not a Mirandacism. That phrase actually originated with VERA FARMIGA. When she gave that tribute to GEORGE CLOONEY at the OSCARS last spring as BEST ACTOR was about to be awarded, that’s what she called GEORGE.

    god, my head’s exploding since george did the voice for mr. fox in the fantastic mr. fox film.


    and again thanks for your words/wisdom ms. m. πŸ™‚

  6. You’re such a good friend, glim. I don’t know what I’d do without you.

    Wisdom? Is that what they’re calling it these days? Ha ha.

    Well, I think that – as the owner of this site – I have a responsibility to be entertaining, singularly distinctive and somewhat interesting. I attempt to do all of that and also maintain my integrity and sense of truthfulness.

    In addition, I strongly believe in taking very good care of the people that I adore (you’re one of them, glim) and kicking scumbags and skanks in the teeth that genuinely deserve it.

    They’ll have a lot more coming to them from other people, I’m sure. I just like to do my part in evening out the score.


    Yeah, I do believe that the quote that I referenced from VERA did originally have to do with the FMF movie.

    Foxes do have their own unique charms. But I personally prefer bears.

    They’re soft and sweet…and they always know where the honey is.

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