This summer’s new movies have provided little in the way of exciting representations of the West. Jonah Hex flopped and 3-D animation hasn’t yet revamped the western genre. However, The Kids Are all Right offers a humorous and self-aware glimpse into contemporary California.
The Kids Are All Right is an indie film directed by Lisa Cholodenko who previously directed High Art and Laurel Canyon. Annette Bening (Nic) and Julianne Moore (Jules) play a married lesbian couple raising two teenage children. With their oldest daughter’s eighteen birthday, the two children seek out the sperm donor who fathered them. Paul, played by Mark Ruffalo, is an organic gardener operating his own restaurant. He represents everything that is fashionable and sexy in local eating and raising your own food. He flirts with women carrying gourds and knows more recipes than Barbara Kingsolver.
In one of the most humorous scenes of the movie, Nic complains that she can’t stand hearing another person claim their love for heirloom tomatoes and she’s sick of the idea of composting.
The Kids Are All Right is the first movie to explore a West settled by Kingsolver and Michael Pollan. Can being an organic farmer be as much a chosen image as the wild outlaw used to be? Are western characters now distinguished by the shade of their gardening overalls instead of the color of their cowboy hat?