The Kids are All Right – A Movie Review

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Aug 012010

Two teenaged children conceived by artificial insemination get the notion to seek out their birth father and introduce him into the family life that their two mothers have built for them. Once the donor is found, the household will never be the same, as family ties are defined, re-defined, and then re-re-defined.

Genres: Drama; Running Time: 1 hr. 44 min.; Release Date: July 9th, 2010 (limited); MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some teen drug and alcohol use.

Starring: Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson

Directed by
: Lisa Cholodenko
We went to see this movie last night out at Brandon. The theater wasn’t nearly packed, but there was a decent crowd. Unfortunately, two adult women sitting just behind us felt compelled to have a conversation throughout the entire movie. Besides that, we both felt this was a great movie, with one major criticism.

The critics seem to universally like this film, and they are right on this one! This movie is brilliantly written and beautifully acted/directed. Lay and me laughed so hard (together with all other audience members) most of the time but yet I teared up during the emotional moments. And leaving the theaters, I resonated a lot with the story and actually felt a bit more hopeful and positive and had a smile on my face. Performance wise, I just love love Bening’s performance!! But it is an ensemble piece and all cast members did a great job!

In Lisa Cholodenko’s heartwarming picture, Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play Nic and Jules, a happily married couple. They have two kids, Joni and Laser, played by Alice in Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska and Zathura’s Josh Hutcherson. The two were born from artificial insemination, both coming from the same father. Joni has just turned 18, and therefore, is legally able to make the call to find out who their biological father is, something she is reluctant to do. She ends up making the call, and low and behold, their father is a mellowed-out, semi-hippie, organic farmer / restaurant owner named Paul, played with fantastic style by Mark Ruffalo. The audience instantly clings to Paul’s charm.

Things get complicated when the kids want to meet with Paul more than once and Paul begins to become a fixture in all of their lives, throwing off the balance. One thing leads to another to another, and all hell breaks loose, twisting and churning our emotions.

Bening and Moore were splendid in their roles, making their relationship feel very real and sympathetic. You couldn’t help but pull for them as the story unfolded. The bittersweet scenes with the kids played very real to me; especially one scene near the end where the sister leaves for college. That was supported marvelously by Mia Wasikowska (whose name is wonderfully, ethnically correct, BTW) who looks like she may be around for awhile; there’s talent in there. They didn’t give Josh Hutcherson a lot to do that would have been a challenge at all, but he didn’t disappoint. In the end, the real focus here was the pair of Bening and Be Moore. As many critics have pointed out, this story is a very real depiction of a family, and the makeup of that family isn’t the story.

The major complaint, shared by both of us, is there are several very graphic sexual scenes (not involving lesbian sex surprisingly). I’m no prude about it, but it distracted from the flow of the movie taking too much time, and just wasn’t necessary to advance the story. The sexual episodes were important to the story, but they could have been shown in the usual way of showing the beginning and the end of the sex, and moving on to the next scene.

Be forewarned about the sexual content, but otherwise, it’s a great movie.

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Alice In Wonderland

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Mar 152010

Movie Poster for Alice in Wonderland19-year-old Alice returns to the whimsical world she first met as a young girl, reuniting with her childhood friends: the White Rabbit, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Dormouse, the Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat, and of course, the Mad Hatter. Alice embarks on a fantastical journey to find her true destiny and end the Red Queen’s reign of terror.

Genres: Fantasy and Adaptation; Running Time: 1 hr. 49 min.; Release Date: March 5th, 2010 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG for fantasy action/violence involving scary images and situations, and for a smoking caterpillar.

Starring: Johnny Depp, Mia Wasikowska, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover

Directed by: Tim Burton

I love Tim Burton and I love Johnny Depp even more, which means I really wanted to love this movie. But alas, it is a unrequieted love.

[callout title=Favorite Characters]While we love Johnny Depp, it was the CGI creations Tweedledee and Tweedledum that had us laughing the most.[/callout]It’s often said a camel is a horse designed by a committee, and having served on lots of committees, I know of whence they speak.  Alice in Wonderland is a Tim Burton film designed by Disney fatcats in a boardroom. They spent so much time worrying about selling it as a product that they completely forgot about putting together a half-decent story.

Mia Wasikowska’s Alice has no character arc; she is exactly the same by the end of the film, and her journey is utterly pointless. I came out of the theater wondering if it were just the mediocre script or the director who had failed to meet my expectations. The narrative thrust is so weak that they have to resort to a mostly hollow battle scene in order to keep everyone awake.

Depp, as usual, played his part perfectly. That man can say more with the lift of eyebrow (prominent ones in this film), that most actors in pages of dialogue. The visuals themselves were stunning, and as in Avatar (although I admit to dodging one time), I was pleased that the 3-D effects were used more to immerse you in Wonderland, than to used to startle. However, as beautiful as the visuals were, they just didn’t seem to add to the story, and the story is all about Wonderland. By the end of the movie, I just kept wanting the Rabbit break out into the “I’m Late, I’m Late” song.

All that being said, the movie is probably worth seeing, but I don’t know if I’d worry about paying the extra for the 3-D version, and you might just enjoy it more on DVD when it comes out.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (1 votes, average: 6.00 out of 10)