The Kids Are Alright?

Posted: December 31, 2010 in Uncategorized

The film the Kids Are Alright has made about every critics end of the year Top 10 list.  The movie is a very well-acted and well-made piece of…well…propoganda.

The plot revolves around a lesbian couple (Annette Benning and Juliane Moore) who have two teen children, the oldest on her way to college. Benning’s character is a doctor who is not handling the pressure of paying all the bills and watching her kids distances themselves from her well.  She is drowning her problems in red wine and alienating her partner, Moore.

With this as the backdrop, the kids meet their biological father (Mark Ruffalo) and, much to Benning’s chagrin, develop a relationship with him.  Ruffalo is a liberal hipster who owns an organic farm and a successful restaurant and floats from one casual sexual fling to the next. Eventually, Moore and Ruffalo have an affair that comes to light and threatens to rip the whole family apart.  In the end, (spoiler alert), Benning and Moore reconcile and the kids turn their back on Ruffalo. 

So, what’s the point of the film? Throughout Benning and Moore are cast as the conservative, traditional couple while Ruffalo is depicted as the selfish trouble maker.  The “kids are alright” as long as the family is defined by the lesbian couple but goes south when a pesky heterosexual intrudes. 

While watching The Kids Are Alright, I kept asking myself what is the point of the movie? The relationship between Benning and Moore is not really explored nor is their relationship with their kids.   The film presents a fairly happy upper middle class existence, albeit with the normal stress of dealing with teenagers and work schedules, until an apparently well-meaning and affable heterosexual dude shows up and then it all goes to pot.  Once he is kicked to the curb then the couple holds hands, smiles and rides off into the sunset apparently happily ever after.

The lack of any real character development means you have to look to the overarching narrative of the plot, which seems to teach that in a day and age where heterosexual guys don’t really grow up that homosexual couples are really “Ozzy & Harriets” and if they have kids…well…they’re alright. 

The problem is that study after study shows this to be a lie.  The overwhelming majority of same-sex couples don’t last and, on the whole, children are better adjusted when they are raised in a traditional home.

The Kids Are Alright won’t make my top 10 list.

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