Smart, funny, slyly satirical and wonderfully warm, this deft 'dramedy' is bittersweet film-making at its best.
Perfectly played by all involved, Cholodenko's film confidently moves between gutsy laughs and heart-wrenching human drama, and only disappoints with a somewhat predictable plot.
Lesbian couple Nic (Bening) and Jules (Moore) have been together for twenty years, bringing up two children thanks to the contributions of an anonymous sperm donor.
As 18-year-old daughter Joni (Wasikowska) prepares to leave the nest for college, she and younger brother Lazer (Hutcherson) get curious about their heritage. Making contact with Paul (Ruffalo), the laid-back restaurateur whose sperm bank deposit helped bring them into the world, the two set off a chain reaction that threatens to tear their alternative family apart.
Poking fun at Californian psycho-babble, upper middle-class snootiness and passé attitudes to sexuality, The Kids Are All Right is a delightfully non-partisan view of a struggling same-sex relationship.
As important a cultural milestone as Brokeback Mountain, and considerably more accessible, this well-penned character piece makes its point through full-blooded and very funny performances, rather than clumsy sermonising.
Bening's stuck-up, wine-guzzling doctor and Moore's wishy-washy landscape gardener are one of the most endearing screen couples in years, and the ever-unassuming Ruffalo is hugely likeable as the well-meaning but self-absorbed Lothario.
While audiences may work out where events are heading long before the characters, the familiar narrative is perhaps to be expected in a film that would be entirely conventional if Bening's character had been a Nicolas rather than a Nic.
This is, of course, very much the point. Bringing home the notion that families are inherently troubled, regardless of the parents' gender or their good intentions, The Kids Are All Right would be bold, subversive film-making if indeed it was out to change the world.
As such, it's thoroughly entertaining, effortlessly moving and highly hilarious viewing that just so happens to say more about an important topic than many po-faced dramas ever manage.