Comedy wears its laughs on its sleeve

Read the Variety review

It might not be the bigscreen version of ABC’s hit series “Modern Family,” nor is it the kind of comedy that wears its laughs on its sleeve, but the well-observed sincerity of ” The Kids Are All Right” should hit home with the Academy. The film’s humor — not to mention its no-frills treatment of an unconventional household run by lesbian parents — comes from moments of familiarity: one partner warning the other to tone down her wine consumption in mixed company, the social conservative dressed in liberal’s clothing, the stunning moment of clarity resulting from the slightest sign that something’s amiss.

Director Lisa Cholodenko, who co-wrote the original story with Stuart Blumberg, offers a keen-eyed view of L.A.’s bohemian enclaves of Venice and Silver Lake, with all of those communities’ attendant peccadilloes and hypocrisies. Award-season perennials Annette Bening and Julianne Moore (three Acad noms apiece) draw sharp contrasts in their yin-and-yang dynamic as the lesbian couple at the film’s center: Bening with her sharp angles and controlling nature, Moore with her easygoing charm and insecure regret. The actresses will go head-to-head for lead consideration, while Mark Ruffalo delivers sexy support as the unconventional family’s sperm-donor dad.

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