The Kids are All Right but the Adults are F#@!ed Up

The thought of this movie couldn't have been more exciting: These women are us.  FINALLY.  Two women who have been together longer than a season of the "L Word" with two children that made it to the terrible teens seemingly uneffected! The "Go Fish" for the gayby boom generation.  And, like us, they chose a donor who could be known when the children turn 18.  Our life laid out in a comedy where all the adults are adults, the kids are kids, and the donor reasures everyone that they made the best choice.  The thought that Hollywood would reasure me that we had made the right choice.  So, we went to see “Kids Are Allright” on a matinee date to the only theater in a city of five million that was showing the movie. We were impressed by the turn out and the crowd was diverse (a point that becomes important later). 

The movie is about Nic (Annette Benning) and Jules (Julianne Moore), their two children, 18 year old Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and 15 year old Laser (Josh Hutcherson), and their donor Paul (Mark Ruffalo).  By now you probably know the basic plot, but as a recap: the son wants to meet the donor but is too young to make the call so he pressure’s his sister to contact the cryobank by invoking the whiners cry “C’mon I never ask you for anything”.  Through this brief discussion we are made aware that this would hurt their moms’ feelings, but the call is made and the meeting is set anyway.  After the three of them meet, a very stunned Laser (stunned because he just discovered that his moms’ prefer gay porn, not lesbian porn-I was in shock too) confesses to his mothers that he and his sister have met with their donor.  What ensues has been described by critics as “warm” and “hilarious”: Paul wants an instant family and, for a good majority of the film it looks like he might get one. 

He has an affair with Jules (the sex scenes between  the two are jungle-like, while the one between the two women is the oh so typical lesbian dead-bed but with the gay dude 1970’s porn in the background as the “refreshing nuance”).  He acts as a harbor from the pressure to excel placed on poor Joni by Nic and gives manly friend advise to Laser.  The only person he does nothing for, but does a whole hell of a lot to, is Nic who is too busy trying to keep her family afloat (in every way).  Eventually, the affair is discovered, Jules tells Paul she’s a lesbian, the kids discover that Nic wants nothing but the best for her family, Jules realizes that marriage and parenting is tough, and it’s understood that the two women will stay together because their son tells them that they are too old to break up.

Yes, it is true that any donor donating anything as a transaction may be curious as to who it goes to or what becomes of it after it is gone from their possession. That being said, I think it is human nature to want to know and meet the person who is 1/2 your genetic makeup. (Mama T and I differ on this point quite a bit) I am not saying I want the donor to move to the instant Dad category upon there first meeting, but I do want our lil guy to meet him if he feels he wants or needs to. Seeing the movie has educated us on several things though...

1. Be honest with your children about the donor and your feelings about it
2. Don't watch gay porn to ward off the dreaded DEAD-BED
3. Find a more imaginative place to hide your toys and gay porn
4. Don't go outside of your marriage/relationship to have an affair especially with the donor who   
    could impregnate you doggy-style
5. See and hear each other at all times even in the toughest times - most of all don't micro manage
6. Just be open and honest
7. It is human nature to faulter and make mistakes - OWN THEM
8. You are the only one who can protect your family- be careful who you let in
9. Drink lots of wine
10. Go green- composte, plant an organic garden and be earthy

The movie isn’t heart-warming, it’s not hilarious (well, it was to the gay men in the diverse audience who were particularly amused that lesbians got off on gay porn, I mean I guess I would think it was funny if two men watched lesbian porn and had affairs with chicks to feel again… no, probably not), and it doesn’t make you forget that this is a lesbian couple.  I suppose that a donor for a straight couple could come back to “parent” after 18 years, but we’re talking about children raised by two mothers who, apparently, never had a father figure.   When a donor can change his mind about anonymity (not necessarily about being known in general but about his role as a donor vs. a father) it’s disturbing to me as the non-biological parent of a son whom I would love to adopt.  Our donor is protected from us, we cannot sue him for child support for example, but he can come into our son’s life at the age of 18 having changed his mind about a transaction with a cup and a magazine.

And, of course, this movie typifies what every lesbian hates about mainstream gay films involving women: they always have to sleep with dudes.  For what reason?  Who knows.  At least Jules “stays gay”.  But, really her over the top delight at seeing Paul’s private area was pretty gross.  Because we have no background story for these characters I was left with the feeling that Jules was not "Gold Medal" lesbian and that sex with men was her preference. Being straight is not a problem, of course, some of my best friends are straight… But when you’re in a 20 year relationship with a woman with whom you’ve had two kids I’m going to judge.

There was no depth development for any of the characters, the storyline was fairly ridiculous, and the California scenery was typical.  With that being said, however, the movie was well acted and the very subject of same-sex parenting on the big screen is so important, especially during this election season.  For me, because this is a subject so close to home, this movie was very thought provoking and emotional.  As I sat in the unusually dark theater I thought about my 20 month old son, whose smile and giggle make me happy and energized when I’m tired and had a tough day.  I thought about him wondering about his donor and trying to work all of that out in his head and heart.  I thought about our local gubernatorial election where all of the Republicans were running on traditional values (*surprise*) that wouldn’t include same sex adoption and benefits for same sex partners. I thought about why I wasn’t finding the funny parts very funny and I never once thought about having sex with a dude.