The title is a misnomer, for **The Kids are All Right,** but it is the grown ups who have all the problems. Serious minded Nick (Annette Bening) and airy Jules (Julianne Moore) are a married lesbian couple with two children from the same father, Paul (Mark Ruffalo), a sperm donor.
Joni (Mia Wasikowska) is a recent high school graduate who is preparing for college. The only male in the house is Laser (Josh Hutcherson), who experiments with cocaine and a goof ball friend. Trying to figure out the meaning of life, Laser convinces Joni to track down their biological father. Within a short period of time, the five people meet and enjoy each other’s company. As an independent contractor, Jules performs landscaping chores for Paul. Jules and Paul become more intimate while Nic frets over every detail in the household. The kids, of course, are all right.
The ensemble of actors keeps this film grounded in the California sunshine. While basically in supporting roles, Josh Hutcherson and Mia Wasikowska portray the most likeable characters in the movie. As the father on ice, Mark Ruffalo gives his best performance yet and has been nominated for best supporting actor.
Nominated for the 4th time, Annette Bening may upset Natalie Portman’s award juggernaut for her **Black Swan** performance. As Nic, Bening is given a composite character that is stern, but vulnerable. As Jules, Julianne Moore is a fine foil and it is too bad that she was not recognized by the academy. Between Nic and Jules, Moore is given the most challenging role and the reliable red headed actress pulls it off.
Though nominated for best original screenplay, **The Kids are All Right** does seem overlong for a film under two hours. Writer/director Lisa Cholodenko gets the most from her actors and the scenery, but tone feels as superficial as an old ABC Afternoon School Special.
For the past two years, the Academy Awards sought to boost interest in the movies by nominating ten motion pictures for the best picture Oscar. **The Kids are All Right** has benefited by this change, but this film is not nearly on the same par as **The King’s Speech,** ***True Grit** and **Toy Story 3.**