One of those cases where I expected way too much in the first place.
Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson), the children of same-sex parents Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore), become curious about the identity of their sperm-donor dad (Mark Ruffalo) and set out to make him part of their family unit, often with hilarious results. But his arrival complicates the household dynamics, and nobody is sure where or how he fits in.
This is a pretty much the same premise you can get with any other family dramedy anywhere else, the only exception is that it’s got a spin……there’s two mommies. As the world is changing, so are movies, get used to it.
Writer/Director Lisa Cholodenko does a pretty good job here of making all these characters feel legit. The film itself focuses on the all 5 members of this “family” and each and every one of them are unique in their own special way. They could have all easily been used as just plain and simple plot devices to get the story moving on, but instead they all feel real, and it’s actually really cool to see how every character’s opinion is different from the other, and how each reaction is different from the other.
The problem with me was the script. Don’t get me wrong I did like how they actually touched on a lot of subjects such as marriage, love, and family, but it all didn’t hit me like I wanted it to. On a comedy level, it’s pretty funny, in a more awkward way which really surprised me. There were times that I was actually cringing in my seat, by how painfully awkward this really was. If that’s how real life is though, then damn, I may just have to go Trojan on that one. However, the drama wasn’t having me totally affected like I was expecting. There were many emotional scenes, but the problem was that they didn’t go the extra mile to touch on its dramatic subjects. There is one element in this film that seemed like it could have been really, really dramatically played out, but instead they just chill and handle it silently. In all honesty, that certain situation would have been handled with fireworks all over the place, not just silent. I don’t know that’s how I see it, but besides that I didn’t get emotionally attached like I was expecting.
I have to say that this cast is what makes this film. Playing a bitchy, over-controlling, and strict momma is never easy to make likable, but somehow, Annette Bening makes that happen. She is perfect as Nic, with her Ellen DeGeneres look, and she has a lot of emotional scenes and it all feels true to the point. You can feel her anger, and you can see why she is, the way she is, but she doesn’t have us hate her. Which is hard to say about a lot what other actresses could have done to this character. Julianne Moore is very good as this hippy-like Jules. She does really well with this character making her seem less stupid, and more confused with what she wants, and it really plays well. Mark Ruffalo is what shines here. His character, Paul, is so cool, and laid back, that really cannot wait to see him every time he’s on screen. In a way, he’s used as a plot device, but Ruffalo makes it more than just that, and has us love his screen presence, even when he’s just standing there, and doing his cool guy smirk. Hopefully an Oscar nomination will come for all three of these peeps. Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson play the two kids, Laser and Joni (chill names for kids), and they play their characters well, but they spend too much time moping around. I wish they had more effective scenes, showing their insight on a lot more that was going on, but with what was given to them I didn’t mind that much.
Overall, I think I was just expecting more as a whole from this film. Back when I first saw the trailer, I was freakin’ out over it, and wanted to see it so bad, and the reviews poured in, and it just seemed like the greatest thing ever. However, I guess with what I got, I was just bummed out about. I thought this was going to be different from your every average family dramedy, but instead it just ended up being basically the same, and a lot of the ways certain scenes ended, I wish they ended differently. But hey, in the end, I guess it was an “all right” experience. I’m catchy as anything.
Consensus: The story isn’t as effective as I was expecting, and the plot feels a little all too familiar, but the characters are rich, and the performances keep this film running, even though you want more.