This movie is so politically correct that the kids drink water instead of wine because they are underage. This is despite the fact that the main characters are lesbians, that half of them are pro-organic foods people, that are trying to raise a family, and that it is set in Northern California. I just don’t buy it. And it is sad because it was a missed opportunity to make a real life comedy about raising kids.
My guess is that the film was trying to state that all marriages are alike; if you haven’t heard already this film is about a lesbian couple raising kids, specifically teenagers. The couple consists of Nic (Anette Bening), who is a resident doctor and Jules (Julianne Moore) who constantly switches professions but has been for the most part a house mom; it is very clear who wears the pants in this family. Together they are raising two kids Joni (Mia Wasikowska), who is 18 and about to go to college, and Laser (Josh Hutcherson), who is 15 and going through the usual high school problems. The family lives a normal happy life. So normal you would never think Laser and Joni (despite their hippie names) as being raised by lesbians. But the happiness doesn’t last for long.
One day Joni and Laser decide to seek out their birth father (they share the same father). They reach out to Paul (Mark Ruffalo), who turns to be exactly what you’d expect a sperm donor to be. A dude that only missed Woodstock because he is too young to be a hippie; nevertheless he still works at an organic cooperative. The kids meet with him; Paul is not what they expected as a father but Joni seems to hit of right despite Laser’s indifference.
At first Joni and Laser don’t tell their mother about this but wise as they come parents find out. They disapprove but ultimately cave into at least inviting him for dinner. At first things seem to be going Ok. Paul turns out not to be that bad a guy to have around and the kids seem to like him. Nic disapproves somewhat; she is nervous and probably going through a midlife crisis. Jules on the other hand begins to show signs of chemistry between her and Paul. Could it be that Jules will cheat on Nic with Paul? This is a movie about marriage; what do you think?
The truth is that Nic could have easily been a guy; this movie could have featured a normal family and nothing would have changed in the movie. I realize that the film is trying to add some spice to the story by having a lesbian marriage, and that its point is to say all marriages are alike. But what do you gain by saying that? Making everybody equally boring?
If what Tolstoy said is true, that “all happy families are alike; every unhappy family in unhappy in its own way”, then there is no reason for this family, who should be more different than any other family, to turn out to be unhappy just like every other family I’ve seen in a Hollywood movie in the last 10 years. In the real world a lesbian marriage raising kids would be very different from anything we consider a regular marriage. Had it focused more on the kids and less on the marriage the film would have been forced to show things like what it means to grow up with gay parents.
However despite these, the film is a sweet family film. It is entertaining for what it is. But it could have been a little bit bolder. It could have highlighted the differences rather than hide them because different is neither wrong nor bad it is just different. And frankly it is what makes this world more colorful.