Wednesday, August 25, 2010

'The Kids Are All Right' full review

Property The Daily Gamecock

miserably. While the action is certainly over-the-top, if only intermittently campy, it never exhibits the kind of care Stallone invests in those three minutes in the church with Willis and Schwarzenegger.

While it could have been a dream-team ensemble movie, a true throwback to “Rambo,” “Commando,” “Predator” and the rest of that dearly loved company, “Expendables” feels more like a shadow, a compromised project that has to shove its real attractions into cameos.

It’s like a high-concept project without its central concept. Even though it picks up significantly in its final act, everything before feels so arthritic, so creaky, it can never rebound from how insignificant an exercise it inevitably feels like.

earnestness, there’s a whole other element of the film that feels wholly calculated and cold.

Its evocation of the melodrama genre, specifically the kind of “middle-age couple in sexual crisis” and “teen child forced to mature through self-actualization” plot lines it hones in on, are beat-for-beat recognizable. The only difference, of course, is the kind of sexual politics underlying the use of the genre.

Now instead of fighting for the stability of the heterosexual couple, the film is questioning how heterosexuality comes into play in a homosexual relationship. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this, and it’s a bold way to emulate progressive politics.

The real problem lies in how stale it all feels after a while. The characters may remain fresh and interesting, but the plot is anything but — its turns toward despair and redemption, to heartbreak and forgiveness, are plot points that feel so obligatory it makes the film feel less unique.

Perhaps that’s director/co-writer Lisa Cholodenko’s point: A film about homosexuals can look an awful lot like a film about heterosexuals. This kind of mirroring is evidently on her mind, as the film often repeats events like sexual intercourse, dinner meals and family arguments at different points in the narrative with different motives and effects for the various characters.

While it’s a heartwarming and funny movie, “The Kids Are All Right” makes its machinations all too apparent. Its soul is nearly compromised by its gender switch setup.

The naturalness of the performances and interactions is so often undercut by the film’s sharp cries for the spectator to think about family and sexuality in ways that draw so heavily on constructed convention that by the end it feels almost more tiresome than refreshing.

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