Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"The Kids Are Alright": Family Life and Family Law on the Big Screen

by Joanna L. Grossman and Lawrence M. Friedman

September 14, 2010

Hollywood has now made a movie, The Kids Are Alright, of a type that would have been unthinkable in the bad old days of the Hays Office (Hollywood's private association, founded in 1922, charged with upholding moral standards in films); and even much more recently than that. Not only is the movie full of sex, but some of the sex is between two women.

The two women, Nic and Jules--brilliantly played by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore--are, in a way, married to each other. We never learn whether they have actually gone through a ceremony of marriage somewhere (probably not), or have entered into a domestic partnership or other formal arrangement. In any event, they are in a longstanding, committed relationship; they own a house together; and they are raising two teenagers together, a boy, Laser, and a girl, Joni.

Each woman is the birth mother of one of the children. The father of both children was the same anonymous sperm donor. But as the movie begins, the kids have located him, and they meet him, greet him, and bring him more or less into the family. The results are disastrous, especially when he and one of the Moms have bouts of hot sex together. This infidelity threatens to destroy the "marriage," but, by the close of the movie, there is a happy ending. Of a sort.