The Kids Are All Right (2010) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Two children conceived by artificial insemination bring their biological father into their non-traditional family life.

  • 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 thirty-something Paul, a co-op farmer and restaurateur. Despite his seemingly successful businesses, Paul has always shirked responsibility, most specifically in his personal life. After Joni and Laser meet with Paul, Nic and Jules learn what their children have done and, although they don't want Paul infiltrating their lives, want to meet him - especially as Joni and Laser seem to want to maintain some sort of relationship with him. As Paul's relationship with the entire family grows (which includes his hiring Jules to design and construct his backyard), they have an effect on what he wants in life. In turn, he affects their family dynamic as well as each person's relationships outside of it.

  • In LA, Nic and Jules are a couple with a daughter, Joni, on her way to college and a son, Laser, at 15 a good athlete but maybe hanging out with the wrong pal. Laser wants Joni, who's now 18, to find out who their biological father is - a sperm donor. Without initially telling their moms, they meet him. He's Paul, a cool guy with a motorcycle, a restaurant, and an organic garden. Although Nic doesn't like the idea, the five of them get together a few times and the kids spend time with Paul. He hires Jules, who's had many brief vocations, to landscape his back yard, and Nic, who's an OB/GYN, decides to be a good sport and get to know Paul better. Can a family add a new member?

  • In Los Angeles, the lesbians Jules and Nicole "Nic" are mothers of the eighteen year-old Joni Mitchell and fifteen year-old Laser that have been conceived by the same sperm donor for the artificial insemination. Nic is a doctor; Jules is a housewife graduated in architecture and has just started a gardening business but she is not supported by Nic and has no clients; Joni has joined the college; and Laser is in high-school. Out of the blue, Joni decides to seek out her biological father and she finds Paul, who is a businessman with a restaurant and a nontrangenic plantation. After the first encounter, they invite Paul to have dinner with their family and Paul hires Jules to transform his back garden. Paul gets close to Joni and Laser and has a love affair with Jules. He falls in love for her, but Jules still loves Nic. Meanwhile Nic feels that she is losing her authority with the children and is jealous of Paul. How will this triangle of love end?


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) are a lesbian couple who have each given birth to a child using the same anonymous sperm donor. Nic, an obstetrician, is the primary breadwinner and the stricter parent, while Jules is more laid back and after previous failures to launch a career, is starting up a landscape design business. While the family functions well, their relationship has begun to go stale.

    The younger child, Laser (Josh Hutcherson) is eager to find his biological father, but has to be 18 to do so. He begs his 18-year-old sister, Joni (Mia Wasikowska) to contact the sperm bank in order to meet their biodad, Paul (Mark Ruffalo). She does so and the first meeting goes well. Joni is impressed by his bohemian lifestyle and Paul is enthused about being in their lives. While Joni swears Laser to secrecy as she does not want to upset their mothers, they find out and invite Paul over to dinner, which while awkward is amiable. When Jules reveals that she has a landscape business, Paul asks her to landscape his back garden, to which Jules agrees, although Nic does not like the idea.

    While working for Paul, Jules likes that he appreciates her work in contrast to Nic, who Jules feels, never supports her career attempts. Jules impulsively kisses him one afternoon, and they end up in bed together and begin an affair.

    Jules and the kids start spending more time with Paul. Nic believes that Paul undermines her authority over the children, for example by giving Joni a ride on his motorcycle when she has forbidden it, and suggesting that she give Joni more freedom. After a heated argument with Jules, Nic suggests that they all have dinner at Paul's house to ease the situation. Things begin to improve as Nic relaxes and makes a connection with Paul over their mutual love of Joni Mitchell. During the dinner, however, Nic is shocked to discover traces of Jules's (red) hair in Paul's bathroom and bedroom. When they return home, Nic confronts Jules. At first, Jules denies the affair but then admits to it. While Nic is devastated, Jules insists she is not in love with Paul and has not turned straight; she just wanted to be appreciated. The household becomes tense, with Jules sleeping on the couch and the children angry at both Jules and Paul. Paul thinks he has fallen for Jules, and since the relationship between Nic and Jules has deteriorated anyway, he suggests that she leave Nic, bring the kids, and come live with him, which Jules declines.

    The night before Joni leaves for college, Paul turns up at the house. Nic angrily confronts him, calling him an interloper, and tells him that if he wants a family then he should make one of his own. Following this, Jules addresses her family. She states that marriage is hard, and tearfully admits her errors and begs their forgiveness. The next morning, the family, pointedly without Paul, takes Joni to college. As Nic and Jules together hug Joni goodbye, they also affectionately touch each other. During the ride home, Laser tells his moms, "You guys shouldn't break up" because they're "too old". Jules and Nic both giggle at Laser's comment, and the film ends with them smiling at each other and holding hands.

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