The Kids are Alright
Lisa Cholodenko’s new movie The Kids are Alright tells the story of what happens when the teenage children of a lesbian couple, Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) seek out and find the man Paul, (Mark Ruffalo) who was their sperm donor. One of the great contrasts in the movie is between the boring “married” sex that the lesbians have, and the much more dynamic and exciting sex that the unencumbered donor enjoys. Some queer bloggers are annoyed about the contrast between the lesbo sex and the straight sex, but to me it’s about LTR sex and shiny new penny sex.
A big part of the story is what it means to be married; as Jules says at one point: ” …marriage is hard. It’s really fucking hard. It’s just two people slogging through the shit, year after year, getting older, changing – it’s a fucking marathon, OK?” Nic and Jules put their all into parenting, it doesn’t seem they’ve put the same care into maintaining their sexual connection. It turns out that makes them vulnerable.
Not that I’m advocating keeping up the erotic connection just to protect from affairs and cheating but partners who feel unappreciated and sexless are apt to dig in if someone offers them a big steaming plate of hot sex.
A fun aspect of this movie is that these parents are very “modern,” striving to support their kids’ sexuality. One of the funniest scenes for me in the movie is when the teenage son asks his Moms why they have gay men’s porn. Their explanation veers all over the place. It’s true that the a lot of dykes prefer gay porn; the Daily Beast has an exploration of why, which does a bit better than poor Jules and Nic at explaining it. Aside from the reasons, it was so familiar to watch these parents try to explain something about sex that was personal and weird and try to stay sex positive and appropriate and honest with their adolescent son. Too real.
Jules and Nic are working their parental asses off, but the darn kids still have their secrets, and as open as the Moms are, the kids keep their own counsel. In spite of the flaws in their relationship, their inadequate explanations, the things they blow out of proportion and the things they overlook, these Moms do a pretty good job, and as the title says, the kids are alright.