As I write this, in November of 2010, this dramedy scores a 96% at Rotten Tomatoes, and has been touted as an Oscar
contender, but that's really only because it's one of those "flavor of the day"
movies. It's about a long-term lesbian couple raising two very normal
teenagers who want to meet their sperm donor.
There's nothing wrong with that idea, and there's nothing wrong with the movie.
It's pleasant enough to watch and the characters are complex. You just can't
quite figure out why anybody would think this film should be an Oscar contender.
I guess it has been elevated to that status because it's promoting our thought
for the year - that children being raised in non-traditional families are no
different from any other kids. That's OK with me, I guess. There's no
statistically significant evidence to confirm or refute that hypothesis, so I
guess I'll tentatively accept it in the name of tolerance, and because it seems
But here's the deal. This film, as I see it, has absolutely nothing at all to do
with a lesbian relationship. With only tiny changes in the script, it could just
as easily be about a man and a woman who, for one reason or another, require a
surrogate father for their children. Indeed, the gay partners are so completely
de-gayed by the script that when one of them eventually has an affair, it is with a
man, her sperm donor. Of course, that's the whole point of the film - that a
lesbian couple raising kids in a long-term marriage can behave exactly the same
and face the exact same problems as any hetero couple in the same situation. I
don't disagree with that point, but my argument is that if the film had been
made from the exact same script, except with the doctor character being a male
in need of surrogate sperm, nobody would be touting The Kids Are All Right as an
Oscar candidate. It would just be another routine and somewhat pedestrian character-based dramedy
starring good actors, like so many that come and go every year.
I don't mean to diss the movie, because it is executed well and I enjoyed it, but I do think
that if The Kids Are All Right gets any Oscar nods, it will be because its
message is timely, not because that message is delivered in a particularly
memorable, complex, or interesting way that will cause us to remember the film
years from now.