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The Kids Are Alright Is More Than Alright

“The Kids Are Alright,” written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko, has so much more to offer than just drama or comedy, as it strongly displays the importance of loyalty and family. The unique and interesting plot and lack of a “modern family” feel may be what makes the movie deliver its message so effectively. The star-studded and talented cast emotionally brought the ironically named Allgood family to life.

The cast rightfully won many awards, including Best Ensemble Cast, a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Comedy, and was nominated at the 83rd Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor. Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg were also nominated for Best Original Screenplay.
Dr. Nicole ‘Nic’ Allgood (Annette Bening) and Jules Allgood (Julianne Moore) are a married lesbian couple with two kids who were conceived thanks to sperm donors. Fifteen-year-old Laser Allgood (Josh Hutcherson) is extremely eager to find the identity of his donor, but is too young to contact the sperm bank. But when his sister Joni Allgood (Mia Wasikowska) turns 18, she decides to comply with her younger brother’s constant begging and contacts the sperm bank.
Even with the female-centric cast, Mark Ruffalo’s loveable and idiotic character, Paul Hatfield, steals the film. After his first meeting with the kids, Paul, a laid-back bohemian restaurant owner, quickly finds himself wanting to meet with them again. Nic, the leader of the family, instantly feels hurt and a little insecure, making it clear that she neither needs nor wants Paul including himself into her kids’ lives more than he currently is.
Paul’s further involvement brings about many changes to the family. Joni, who had always been perfectly obedient to her mother, Nic, breaks out of her timid self and rebels. She allows Paul to take her home on a motorcycle, and begins disagreeing with and snaping back at her mother. She even gets drunk at a party one night. At Paul’s suggestion, Laser is motivated to end the destructive friendship with his reckless, immature friend, though his mothers gave him similar advice.
However, the most significant change that Paul has on the family is the affair that he and Jules have. Paul hires Jules, who owns a landscaping business, to furnish his backyard. However, when Paul acknowledges her hard work and thanks her, she impulsively kisses him and receives the gratification and intimacy that Nic had deprived her of.
When Paul invites the whole family over for dinner, Nic discovers traces of Jules’ hair in his bathroom and bedroom. The family’s relations take a turn for the worse as fights break out between all characters. The kids are disappointed with Jules and Paul and Nic is deeply distressed with Jules. Paul tries to apologize to Joni the night before her college departure and is confronted by Nic, who tells him to stay away from her family, saying that if he wants one so bad, he should go out and make his own.
In the end, it is clear that Paul’s short visit into the lives of the Allgoods was necessary. It resulted in important developments that each family member needed to go through. Before going off to college, Joni needed to learn how to assert herself, while Laser needed a positive male role model to free him from his friend’s negative influence. Jules needed more appreciation and support from someone, and because of the affair, she was able to express that to Nic. Nic learned the most important lesson of all: that she was denying her family of all these aspects. By recognizing this, she reclaimed her position as leader of the family and began working on giving her family more of what they needed.
All in all, regardless of the proudly unorthodox family, “The Kids Are Alright” is an all-American film. With its bittersweet ending, it really challenges the idea of what a perfect family is.

 

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