So... my first reaction to The Kids Are All Right was a huge wave of relief.
My 12-year-old son wanted to see the film—which is being heavily advertised on every cable channel he's allowed to watch (we block Christian stations, QVC, and MTV)—but we didn’t know if that was a good idea. The feel-good-hit-family-film-of-the-summer is rated R. He pointed out that we’ve allowed him to rent some R-rated films, and that he gets to watch South Park now. (“The F Word” episode—all about the word faggot—is a particular family favorite.) So why shouldn’t he be allowed to see an R-rated film about a lesbian couple and their two kids and their sperm donor? How bad, he asked, could a film about “a family like mine” possibly be?
Um… pretty bad, as it turns out.
Don't get me wrong: the film isn’t bad—the film is good, great even, despite its subtle conservative bias—but it more than earns that R-rating. This isn’t a case of the Motion Picture Association of America being needlessly squeamish about “teh gays" or the MPAA trying to protect innocent, home-schooled children from stumbling into theaters in Indiana and suddenly learning of the existence of homosexuals. No, it turns out there's a whole lot of fucking in The Kids Are All Right. And it's not the kids who are fucking. Neither of the kid seems to be all that sexual; both appear to be virgins, both are straight.
It's the olds who're doing all the fucking. And with the exception of a short and unsuccessful under-the-covers-lesbo-oral-sex session (spiced up with a little gay porn), all the fucking is straight. It's rare to see so much explicit straight sex in a film starring two straight women who're pretending to be lesbians that isn’t hardcore porn made by and for straight men.
So, anyway, we were relieved that we didn’t bring our son to The Kids Are All Right. And our son was relieved that we didn’t take him after we explained that Mark Ruffalo and Julianne Moore were pounding away at each other for roughly half the film’s running time.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
As for the film's subtle conservative bias, I unpack that here.