The kids are all right, but the adults are a mess. The kids are Joni and Laser, half sibs in a Heather Has Two Mommies household. The two mommies are Type A doctor Nic (Annette Bening) and the more submissive Jules (Julianne Moore), and they have reared the kids in the soft comfort of liberal upper suburbia.
One day, Laser gets it in his head that he wants to meet the sperm donor, but at age 15 needs his 18-year-old sister to orchestrate the meet-up through the donor clinic. Daddy turns out to be Paul (Mark Ruffalo), the free-spirited owner of a classy co-op restaurant. The initial meet goes well, but what follows is all sorts of awkward, followed by escalating amounts of awkward as the adults are impelled to act out what’s been repressed all these years.
Actually, The Kids Are All Right is a hundred minutes of awkward, with well-off liberals sitting around drinking wine and nodding at each other, lobbing pithy statements without saying what’s really on their mind. It’d be annoying if the script wasn’t aware of how monied liberals can be just as damned annoying as monied conservatives.
Aside from the kids, no one gets off easy here. With an emphasis on acting over narrative, the performances are uniformly solid, although at times Ruffalo seems to be channeling some alternate universe version of Dennis Miller as aging bohemian. The script is easygoing, managing to remain low-key with the comedic elements while deploying sporadic doses of domestic melodrama. It’s a sexed-up dramedy that seems to go out of its way not to be very sexy. Although writer/director Lisa Cholodenko shows a welcome respect for her audience by resolving some of the situations that arise through subtext, rather than explaining it all with Dialogue McNuggets.