I loved “The Kids Are All Right.” I really, really did – as you probably already realized. It touched me in ways that few movies have recently. I left the theater feeling so lucky, so great, so happy with the universe. I’ve mentioned that I cried like a baby, right? We’re talking Pixar tears, people. But I also laughed and cringed and fumed – the whole spectrum of human emotions. I started writing my review right away – taking notes on my phone as I headed to the parking lot. It came quickly, as all work that I feel truly passionate about does. I wanted to share this amazing movie, these brilliant performances with the world. I couldn’t wait. I was so excited. When you love something you want to share it, you want other people to love it like you love it. At the very least you want people to give it a chance.
So, imagine my surprise (though, I shouldn’t have been surprised – I blame love blindness), at the vitriolic response this movie has elicited, almost exclusively from those who have not seen the film. Now, I understand if you saw this movie and don’t like this movie. I don’t agree, but I understand and we can have a reasonable discussion about the whys and why nots. [Spoiler Alert: But, come on, you know.] And I understand if you are worried, wary, worked up by the idea of Julianne Moore’s character sleeping with Mark Ruffalo. I was, too – before I saw the movie.
Since my review has run I’ve been accused of being, in no particular order: a bad gay, an apologist for the ridiculous “lesbians-all-secretly-crave-dick” myth and – my favorite – paid by Lisa Cholodenko herself. Ha! If only! I am still, by the way, receiving angry emails. If you think I’m kidding, please witness one emailer’s decision to post our entire back-and-forth correspondence, without asking, on my review. Yeah. For real.
But this isn’t about the woe-is-me, but instead about the woe-is-this-film lament. This extraordinary movie could find itself in the strange position of being loved by everyone except the religious right and some lesbians, who both hate it on principle even though neither group – by and large – has seen the movie. Strange bedfellows, indeed.
I’ve already made my case for “The Kids Are All Right.” But don’t listen to me. Listen to the best critics in the country. This is the fifth best reviewed film in theaters right now. It has received glowing reviews from The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Entertainment Weekly and Roger Ebert – just to name a few. And gay women’s sites, besides AfterEllen, have sung its praises including AutoStraddle, SheWired along with wonderful lesbian bloggers like Scribegrrrl, Mombian, Lesbian Dad and Jenni Olson. This isn’t just a great gay movie, it’s a great movie. It’s what you want from cinema – to think and feel and empathize. And it does all of that while being subtly yet seriously subversive.
This weekend the movie opens wider to 28 more theaters around the country (and more next weekend) thanks to a very strong box office showing in limited release last weekend in NY, LA, SF and Chicago. If it’s coming to a theater near you, I would say run don’t walk. Seeing is believing, or at the very least knowing what you’re talking about if you still disbelieve.
I hate to say it, but some of the joy I felt in the theater has been muted by the response this film has received outside the theater. It hurts my heart to think that people are being so reactionary and closed-minded without seeing this film first. So this weekend I think I’ll go see it again. I want to recapture the magic and be reminded, once more, that everything is indeed all right. Happy weekend, all.