We were lucky enough to find a friend/neighbor to come over last night after Curly went to sleep so we could pop on down to our local movie theater and see The Kids Are All Right. I’ve heard from others that you either love this movie or hate this movie, so in typical Gemini fashion, I loved-hated it. I’m going to put the rest of this entry under a cut because I’m going in depth and if you haven’t seen it yet, it will spoil it for you (so if you’re on g.oo.gle reader and the following isn’t cut, stop reading now)
For those of you who don’t know, the movie is about a two mom family with two kids, both from the same sperm bank donor who agreed to release his identity when the kids turned 18. The daughter just turned 18 and is about to go off to college, but before she does, her 15 year old brother would like her to contact their donor so they can meet him.
I found myself to be very critical of this movie because it is a wide-release film starring two VERY well-known actresses, and therefore, it is going to influence how others see two mom families, for better and for worse. A little neuroses, a little drama, etc…that’s all well and good. I just thought it went overboard and in a wrong direction. I should add that Nutella and I differ in this regard…she sees it as art and does not feel it should be representational for our benefit at all. She was therefore more forgiving than I of what we saw as the film’s shortcomings.
I hated that when faced with challenges in their relationship, one of the two mothers jumped right into bed with their sperm donor, all while still clinging onto her identity as a lesbian. Please tell me what lesbian sees an erect penis in her face and excitedly says ‘Oh HELLO!’ and then jumps on it. It just furthers the (false) stereotype that when faced with the right guy, any lesbian can change. If she were bi, I’d rather they just say so or allude to that instead. So that was my first problem. Secondly, I know that ‘bed death’ can be an issue for lesbian couples (or any couple!) down the road, but the one instance of sex they showed the mothers engaging in was boring, disconnected, spurred by pornography and of course, cut short (though admittedly, that moment was a funny one). Finally, both mothers had their neuroses, though Annette Bening’s character was straddling the line of being over-the-top…crazy, over-controlling and rude one minute, and charming, gentle and likable the next. Had the couple been a little more normal/average, had Julianne Moore’s character been more stable in her identity, I would’ve been more accepting. But it wasn’t. Sadly, I guess that doesn’t make for good entertainment.
I thought the kids were delightful and had no problem with them. I also liked how they navigated their relationships with their friends, their mothers and each other. I even thought the donor was totally believable as a late 30-something who never really matured. However, if we had used an ID-release sperm donor, I probably would be a bit freaked out after seeing this film. It really seemed to me like a PSA to not use an ID-release donor because it’s going to fuck everything up somehow. As the daughter said late in the movie, she wished the donor had been.. “better.” Both she and her brother tried so hard to see facets of themselves in the donor, and the brother was especially disappointed when the donor seemed only like a self-absorbed stranger. That disappointment got even worse when the donor slept with one of their moms and crumbled the whole family. Even though the donor tried to answer the boy’s question of why he donated in the first place with a ‘do-good/help people’ explanation, we all could see that he just needed the money at the time. As for Nutella and I, we know that is a huge reason why lots of 20-something donors do it, ours included, and why that’s a good reason to never have him be anything more to our son than that, along with his handwritten answers to the sperm bank’s questionnaire.
There was a lot of good about this movie- two women who obviously love each other, who raised two good, self-sufficient kids together whom they absolutely love, and the trials and tribulations of life and marriage in general. I just didn’t like how dysfunctional they were and the cheating with a man thing. Is it impossible to make a movie like this that is engaging without those things?