Here, we have the mid-life married couple as lesbians with teenage children and the interloper being the donor of the sperm that helped create the kids.
“Kids” is a comedy, which descends into gut-wrenching drama. Major factors in its success are a dead-on insightful script, non-condescending direction, and an acting ensemble second to none.
Directed by Lisa Cholodenko (“Laurel Canyon”) from her screenplay with Stuart Blumberg, “Kids” depicts “perfect” gay parents, Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore), struggling to control college-bound 18-year-old daughter Joni (Mia Wasikowska of Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland”) and 15-year-old jock son, Laser (Josh Hutcherson of “Bridge to Terabithia”). An OB-GYN, Nic is the breadwinner of the family, while Jules performs the mommy-stay-at home role. With the kids almost grown, Jules is itching to get a career going. Quiet desperation is setting in; it seems like the calm before the storm.
The storm comes in the form of Paul (Mark Ruffalo). An affable Southern California organic restaurateur, Paul is unwittingly recruited into the family, when the two teens become curious to meet their sperm donor dad. This development does not bode well for the parents, particularly Nic. She grows triply threatened when Paul’s easy-going charm casts its spell on, not only Joni and Laser, but Jules. After Paul hires Jules to launch her organic-gardening dream on the grounds of his restaurant, Nic begins tippling wine more than usual.
Then, Nic’s worst nightmare is realized. Jules crashes through the gay marriage taboo in a big way…by bounding into bed with Paul and his penis.
Sparks fly, as provocative comedy flares into full-blown dramatic fireworks. Uncomfortable questions arise about lesbian marital loyalty facing a family without a father. In lesser hands, the film may have collapsed in an awkward jumble of good intentions.