“The Kids Are All Right” (2010)

A pretty big letdown after all the ink it’s gotten. I even stopped having fun hanging out with those actors halfway into it, mostly because the script kept forcing them into such unnatural positions. The simulacrum of life’s messiness, with its carefully gauged not-too-serious tone, reminded me of Terms of Endearment and Broadcast News, and like Brooks it wouldn’t stop with the music—that goddam acoustic guitar was pissing poignancy on everything in sight. Some things in it I didn’t even understand, like that bit at the end when the girl sends everyone away, but I found its treatment of Ruffalo’s character really puzzling. Sarah Palin might approve of the way it asserts the primacy of family while managing to make the liberal eco-minded libertine appear to be every bit the “interloper” that Bening accuses him of being. That these people couldn’t find a place for each other in their lives, especially when they seemed so largely cut from the same cloth, came as a real surprise.

That all said, Bening is just a jewel in it—I could almost recommend it just for a couple of closeups of her. Alas, almost…

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