|Kids Are All Right, The (2010)|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Monday, 29 November 2010|
I have never been one for family dynamics films. Whether they all get along, which is virtually never, or they fight from beginning to end is of little interest to me. Any heartwarming or slightly engaging sequences within a film like this gets lost amidst the bickering. You get enough of that in life, why do I want to sit through nearly two hours of it?
I think I laughed maybe twice during the film. There are clearly comical elements throughout, they just didn’t appeal to my humor.
The film is about the dynamic relationship between two lesbians (Julianne Moore and Annette Bening) and their two sperm-donated offspring. Jules (Moore) is mother to Laser (Josh Hutcherson), don’t get me started on the name Laser. Nic (Bening) is the mother of Joni (Mia Wasikowska), named after Joni Mitchell.
When Joni turns 18, her brother begs her to call the donation bank and find out who their biological father is. She is reluctant, but gives in. The “father,” Paul (Mark Ruffalo) is a college dropout turn entrepreneur, but still seems as though he has no direction in life. He lives in the moment. He agrees to meet the kids and finds that he wants to be involved in their lives.
Joni is a shy girl who is passively contemplating her first kiss. Laser is an “act out” teenager that fits every stereotype and cliché in the book. Just like with most “normal” families, Joni is at war with her uptight, controlling mother. Meanwhile, Jules is the laid back, go with the flow mother that doesn’t really get along or not get along with her son.
In case you decide to watch this film I will not be going into the thick of the plot as then the drama would be of little interest to even consider watching.
The film is obviously a statement on growing up in a family with two mothers and the normality of the family struggles regardless of a hetero or homosexual family. Paul introduces conflict, which only erupts the tension that has been brewing in the sarcastic remarks and heavy stares. Thankfully, the film does not push a political view. That is the saving grace to the film. Director/writer Lisa Cholodenko focuses the film on family issues and not the question as to whether or not it is right for two gay women to mother/father children through sperm donation. Nevertheless the film left me feeling nonchalant about everything, meaning it failed to engage.
While the film wasn’t engaging to me, the video quality is excellent. You won’t find demo sequences in this film, but it is hard to fault the transfer. There is no evidence of banding or artifacting in the transfer. Post-production processing is get minimal, if at all noticeable to most viewers. Edge enhancement is pleasantly absent. The black levels may not be as deep and satisfying as many top-notch film transfers, but they are certainly more than adequate. Shadow delineation isn’t of much concern her as most of the takes place in well-lit environments. However, during those darker sequences the details remain strong in the shadows. Contrast is a bit uneven from time to time, but this seems to trace back to the original photography. Where the transfer truly shines is in the color palette. Colors are rich and real, a rare combination. You will not find vibrant colors that just leap off the screen, but what you will find is a palette that provides warmth and comfort. It is quite pleasant. This transfer is probably exactly how the filmmakers intended the image to look.
The audio quality is fairly tame. That is not to say that it is bad. However, this is a slow drama so there is not a lot of creativity or opportunity for sound design elements. Therefore, the primary element here is dialogue. When it comes to dialogue the audio track is nearly perfect. The voices are supple and always intelligible. There are some production noises that slipped through the cracks, but you’ll only notice these if couple glitches if you are trained. The surround channels remain empty for the majority of the film. Bled music is about the only thing that occupies the rear channels from time to time. The LFE channel is absent throughout, and rightly so. This is a solid audio track that will easily get you through the film.
There isn’t much here in terms of bonus materials. The only worthy feature is the audio commentary with director/writer Lisa Cholodenko. You will find this commentary to probably be more engaging that the film. Other than that, there are three brief featurettes: “The Making of ‘The Kids Are All Right,’” “The Journey To Forming A Family” and “The Writer’s Process.” The disc is also equipped with pocketBLU and BD-Live.
“The Kids Are All Right” isn’t for everyone. You like trouble family dramas then you will likely want to give this a shot. The video and audio qualities are superb, but obviously don’t make this a worthwhile addition to you collection if you have no interest in the film.