The Kids Are All Right… just not sure about the parents

The Oscars are upon us — so here’s my 2 cents on one of the Best Picture nominees…

I’m well aware that as a pop culture junkie and a gay man, I’m supposed to have fallen all over myself for “The Kids Are All Right.” The film has gotten pretty much across-the-board rave reviews (a whopping 94% from Rotten Tomatoes, which usually doesn’t happen for anything but sci-fi, anime or movies about Facebook).

I had every intention of loving it. I’m a longtime fan of both Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, and Mark Rufalo has been growing on me (although I’m still not sure he’s going to make a good Bruce Banner — isn’t Banner supposed to be a genius?) And it’s about a same-sex-parented family for pete’s sake, so what’s not to love?

While I did thoroughly enjoy Bening’s acting, as well as that of their kids, I took issue with two major plot points. SPOILERS AHEAD…

A: Not only did Moore’s character cheat on her wife, but with a dude. Help me out, my lesbian sisters — how often does that really happen? Because her team-switching seemed like manipulative, overly-dramatic bullshit. It would have had just as much impact had the affair been with a woman, and been more realistic.

B: Okay, so the kids sought out their biological father. It happens. But not only does he insert himself into one of their moms, but also into the kids’ lives. I realize this is probably more believable than issue A. But it was personally disturbing, as I’m a father of an adopted son, and have my own struggles with the existence of my son’s birth parents. In our case they are known, so he’ll never have to sneak off to discover who they are. But the thought of a person who’s not JJ’s parent acting like one bugs the bejesus out of me.

However, as I’m writing this, I realize all parents have to deal with their influence being supplanted, especially as their kids become teenagers. I know in my own teendom there were many, many people and things higher on my list than my parents — my friends, the cool (and cute) Humanities teacher, Adam & the Ants, a bottle of Boone’s Farm.

I know these aren’t really cinematic criticisms — overall the film is well-made. What bothers me is that I had such high hopes for this mainstream film to show the world that same-sex parented families could be happy, healthy and normal. It was frustrating then to see the representations of my two most precious relationships — that of my partner and my child, shown as fragile and tumultuous.

I suppose what I need to remember is that fragile and tumultuous, deceptive and adulterous is pretty much how Hollywood does things. Seriously, who wants to see a movie about a loving, well-adjusted family of gays and their adopted children? I guess I do.

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