So two lesbians, a magician, Alice in Wonderland and the evil kid from the Vampire's assistant walk into a bar.
Hypothetically, if you tell the same story The Kids Are All Right tells and remove its very important progressive attitudes to same sex marriage, and replace it with a bible-belt approved time-worn, male to female marriage, is the film still good? My instinct is no, because outside of its excellent portrayal of realistic, live-long love between two women, the storytelling here can get a bit lax. It goes where you think it will go, people fall out because they have to fall out and much of what happens feels, I don't know, forced. I'd probably still recommend the thing as a showcase for three great actors of our time, giving top shelf performances, but for a movie that has been put forward as progressive and daring much of what happens feels almost timidly safe and predictable. And it feels like it didn't have to.
But they really are good performances. I'll talk about Mark Ruffalo first because Mark Ruffalo is awesome, and not enough people know it. I think in about twenty years or something, hopefully less as I believe in people's ability to not be planks, it's suddenly going to click that one of the this decades best actors has done much of his best work under the radar, I imagine very few people have seen the excellent performances he gave in You Can Count On Me or The Brothers Bloom, the latter almost more awesome because that movie wasn't all that great like at all, but what amazes me is that is as a general rule, if you are the stand out performance in a David Fincher film, as Ruffalo did in Zodiac, where he should have scored an Oscar nomination and so much more, You should be pretty much indisputable. C'est La vie. Ruffalo is great here, a mixture of awkward and self-satisfied but somehow remaining likeable, he's perfect in a role that's more cynical then it first appears. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are equally as impressive, both together as a believable couple in love, that has been slightly worn by time, and separately. Although in the film, Moore probably has the more prominent role. The thing is, I have no problem with any of these performances getting awards recognition, but at times one can't help but feel this film is only what it is because of the people in it, and judged on its own merits, its all a little familiar. Something it should have never been.
In a way it kind overlooks the children's stories in lieu of the parents, and the connection between Mia Wazikowska and Ruffalo was something that I simply didn't believe in because the film didn't give it the time it needed to be credible, and that's a major part of the story. What it gets so right between Bening and Moore it doesn't quite everywhere else, most notably Josh Hutcherson's son character, who ends up being a fairly generic angsty teenager when he didn't have to be. It was lazy when it needed to be incisive, predictable when it needed to be surprising and trite when it needed to be subtle. Yet I'm tempted to say all is forgiven just for the great acting thing. But not quite. Please nobody point out that I gave this the same grade as From Paris With Love.