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Two children born by artificial insemination want to meet their biological father in this comedy drama starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo
If Oscars were given for most convincing on-screen couple, Annette Bening and Julianne Moore would be a shoe-in here as Nic and Jules, a married couple whose children, conceived via artificial insemination, decide in their late teens that they'd like to meet the man from whose seed they sprang. Bening and Moore nail the rhythms, intonations and body language of long-term lovers, comfortable with each other and far from jaded but also, naturally, no longer in the first flush of romance.
Sailing into their cosy marriage, Mark Ruffalo as the biological dad is charming without being too sleazy, and his aura of irresponsibility is finely judged; he's never an annoying manchild, but equally it's easy to see why his grubby-fingernailed laissez faire style has the effect it does on this picture-perfect family. The kids themselves are, as promised, all right, with Mia Wasikowska more effective than she was allowed to be in the woeful 2010 Alice In Wonderland, but Josh Hutcherson slightly in danger of being upstaged by his foul-mouthed toxic best friend (Eddie Hassell).
The Kids Are All Right is mostly quite cosy, comfortable stuff, with the studio responsible, Focus Features, close to becoming an American version of the UK's own Working Title, home of Notting Hill and Bridget Jones's Diary. The Kids Are All Right is not quite as broad as those films, but don't let the right-on characters fool you: this is a traditional comedy about the tensions between generations and within marriages, and is finally even rather conservative in its resolution.
Deft performances and the script's sure ear for dialogue distinguish a comedy-drama that could have so easily got bogged down in superficial melodrama. Instead, it's a light, lovingly handled tale about the difficulties of staying in love.
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