There are elements to admire in this summer dramedy about a long-married couple and their teenage children.
First, it's original. In The Kids are All Right, the family is headed by two lesbians, Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore). Then, there are the noteworthy performances by Bening, Moore and Mark Ruffalo, who plays Paul, the happy-go-lucky sperm donor who begat them their 18-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son, whose name is, inexplicably, Laser. (Ooo, wait, I haven't even gotten to the part about all there is not to admire.)
But, as long as I've gotten on that train of thought, I may as well continue:
-- The parts for the two kids are sorely underwritten. Even though the movie belongs to the three adult leads, these kids are so bland, they're practically props.
-- The college-bound daughter, Joni, is smart. We know this because she says she got straight As in high school. She never does or says anything, though, that makes her seem remotely intelligent.
-- The details are wrong. When the rudderless Jules buys a truck so she can begin a landscaping business, we wonder -- I did, anyway -- why she didn't begin with her own parched lawn. She doesn't appear to have even a passing interest in horticulture.
-- At one point, Jules marvels to Paul that she keeps seeing her kids' faces in his expressions. He squints, tilts his head and asks, "Really?" She mimics him, as if to say her kids make that gesture all the time. But, we never see them do it. Which brings me to another point ...
-- The kids look nothing like Nic, Jules or Paul. Wouldn't it have been a neater trick for a casting director to opt for teens who look remotely like one of the leads? Since the kids' parts are so blah, anyway, it seems that casting someone who looked like he/she could've been the offspring of one of these people would've been the main goal.
-- The two kids have best friends who seem to serve no purpose other than to annoy them ... and us.
-- The two moms are both so California crunchy, it's unbelievable that one of them turns her nose up at ... composting. (Which, by now, is mainstream.)
I could continue with what's not to like, but you're getting the idea. Skip it.