The Kids Are Alright

November 27, 2013

The Kids Are Alright is actually a coming-of-age film that genuinely passes itself off as a mild melodrama. The plot itself is highly original, with the writing and acting top shelf. I came away thoroughly impressed with the entire production.


The great thing about such a film is that it is able to successfully deploy comedy across the spectrum of a very serious subject. And that subject is the confrontation of a surrogate or adopted child with his or her true parent. Typically in life such confrontations are incredibly tense, not just for the parent and the child, but also for the individuals in the child’s life that have behaved like genuine parents. In The Kids Are Alright, however, we have a clever distinction with the father of two children each from a lesbian couple. He is a pseudo-hippy. He runs a local organic farm which he uses to supply his local organically grown restaurant with delicious veggies. He has such a lackadaisical approach to life that he disrupts the entire organization of the lesbian family unit, which is dominated by the up-tight doctor who unofficially heads the household by being the de facto breadwinner.


The simple curiosity of one of the children is all that it takes for him to create this flux in the family. In general, is it a good thing that he not only introduces himself to the children, but also to the parents, and even more so becomes a hanger-on, attached to the children he incidentally made by donating sperm? The family is incredibly generous in allowing him inside their private world, where one can imagine such relationships fade immediately after the emotional reunion ends. This is what makes this film so intriguing, as it explores the interpersonal relationships and their complexities when such a “doomsday” scenario takes place.


We never have inkling nor suspicion however that there is havoc brewing. This is simply superb, because that is actually what transpires in the film. It creeps in however. Like a slowly grown organic vegetable, the father causes a metamorphosis in every individual in the family. Is this to signify that he had a positive impact on their lives by being so disruptive? Is he a detergent cleansing away the underlying difficulties, the dirt underneath the rug, of the family? That is what is put forward. And no, he is not magical by any stretch of the imagination. Instead what he provides is almost a unique perspective or critique for each character.


And each character is written flawlessly. They coordinate with each other extremely smoothly, like a well-oiled machine. There is no wasted script here. Everybody has a plan and purpose in moving the gears forward. And such gears, which symbolize the growth of each of the characters, come across as genuine versus a forgery. As in, this is a textbook character study film that excels expectations by avoiding corny, clichéd, emotional twists and turns. Perhaps it is the comedy that enables the film to cut across the typical chick-flick melodrama that typifies such films. Either way this is a marvelous accomplishment in character study in film, allowing oneself to become immersed in the metamorphosis and to empathize with the changing character we all are.


Grade: A+



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