Nic and Jules are in a long term, committed, loving but by no means perfect same-sex relationship. Nic, a physician, needs to wield what she believes is control, whereas Jules, under that control, is less self-assured. During their relationship, Jules has floundered in her "nine to five" life, sometimes trying to start a business - always unsuccessfully - or being the stay-at-home mom. She is currently trying to start a landscape design business. They have two teen-aged children, Joni (conceived by Nic) and Laser (by Jules). Although not exact replicas, each offspring does more closely resemble his/her biological mother in temperament. Joni and Laser are also half-siblings, having the same unknown sperm donor father. Shortly after Joni's eighteenth birthday and shortly before she plans to leave the house and head off to college, Laser, only fifteen and underage to do so, pleads with her to try and contact their sperm donor father. Somewhat reluctantly, she does. He is late ... Written by
Products of same parents different mothers inquisitive teens Joni and Laser seek out their biological father. Paul (Mark Ruffalo) turns out to be a likable laid back vacillator that the kids would like to have more of in their lives. Nic (Annette Benning) a focused doctor is cautious while Jules (Julliane Moore) more free wheeling in the mode of Paul connects with him in more ways than one.
Kids is a basic dramedy of bump in the road marital discord enhanced by the changing make- up of today's nuclear family. The same problems of raising a family and maintaining individual identity within the unit are dealt with here as in any union but with the added dynamic of same gender partners struggling with traditional heterosexual hurdles.
As lovers and parents Moore and Benning are excellent as they display a nice comfortable chemistry with each other, casually defining and revealing the problems in the relationship without hysteria. Opposites in many ways Benning's Nic is rigid but pliable, Moore's Jules free spirited but conflicted; yet they balance each other well as long time companions. Ruffalo's Paul has a nice irresponsible charm at first that allows him to inveigle his way into the family setting momentarily by winning over the kids and Jules as well as a grudging respect from Nic.
Director Lisa Cholodenko maintains a spry enough pace by moving from character to character without bogging down in the superfluous chatter that devoured Laurel Canyon and along with a trio of winning performances to carry it along "The Kids.." is a lot better than all right.
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