**/**** Image A Sound A Extras B
starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson
screenplay by Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
directed by Lisa Cholodenko
by Bill Chambers Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and her younger brother Laser (Josh Hutcherson) are the offspring of lesbian couple Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) and an anonymous sperm donor named Paul (Mark Ruffalo). Nic and Jules shared the burden of pregnancy, and though The Kids Are All Right never comes right out and says who gave birth to whom, the dispositional echoes, subtle shows of favouritism, and even just the kids' names suggest that gynecologist Nic had the overachieving Joni and hippie-dippy Jules bore impressionable, impetuous Laser. But the movie's more intriguing when the dots are harder to connect. Nic, for instance, gets off on watching a tape of two guys fornicating as Jules pleasures her. And Laser has to guilt goodie-goodie Joni into contacting their biological father, yet it's Joni who takes an immediate shine to the man, while Laser sniffs, "I think he's a little into himself"--directly mirroring Nic's subsequent assessment of Paul as "self-satisfied." A critical callback, it shows that Nic and Jules aren't two single mothers sharing a roof à la "Kate & Allie", but parents whose dynamic jointly influences their children. It's also more convincing evidence of their togetherness than their bedtime nicknames for each other ("chicken" and "pony"), which the actresses can barely utter without giving away the blooper reel.