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A 2010 independent Dramedy film about a lesbian couple, Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore), and their teenage children, Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson). The children decide that they want to meet their anonymous sperm donor, a guy named Paul (Mark Ruffalo), whose relationship with each of the four members of the family zigzags throughout the course of the film.

Directed and co-written by Lisa Cholodenko (High Art), the film was a breakout hit at Sundance and ultimately nominated for Best Picture.

Not to be confused with The Kids Are Alright, the 1979 rockumentary about The Who, or The Kids Are Alright (2018), a Dom Com series set in the 1970s.


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This film includes examples of:

  • Adult Fear:
    • Nic and Jules momentarily getting concerned when Laser tells them he met someone and that he "met him once". They immediately question Laser if he met him online.
    • Later Nic and Jules become concerned for Joni's well-being when she arrives home late and drunk from a party. Though she insists she didn't drive drunk, they're still worried.
  • Affair Hair: Unusually, it's found at Paul's house.
  • The Alcoholic: A slight case with Nic. While not full-fledged, Jules' reaction when she has more than one drink and the way her personality gets even more prickly indicates that she has a problem at the very least.
  • All Lesbians Want Kids: Both Nic and Jules wanted a kid biologically so they both convieved and gave birth to a child (Nic with Joni; Jules with Laser) and they sought out the help of the same sperm donor so that both their kids would be related to one another.
  • All Women Are Lustful:
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    • Joni's friend Sasha likes to sexualize everything in conversations.
    • Jules enjoys having sex with Paul.
  • And Starring: Josh Hutcherson gets this treatment in the OBB.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: At one point during an argument, Jules asks the drunken Nic: "Do you even find me attractive anymore?". Nic doesn't even bother to answer her and this just drives Jules to have an affair with Paul.
    • When Nic confronts Jules about her having an affair with Paul, Jules lies about why her hair was found in Paul's shower and her scent in Paul's bed. Nic snarkily fires back "Did you also take a nap too?".
  • The Atoner: After the affair is discovered, Paul tries to make amends with his kids and their moms. It doesn't go well for him.
  • Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity: Paul telling Joni "I love lesbians!" over the phone. Then Paul suggesting Joni and Laser take a ride on his motorcycle. Later, Paul helps Laser film Clay doing a crazy skateboard stunt.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Laser Allgood.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Laser realizes how horrible a person Clay really is when he attempts to pee on a stray dog.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Nic and Jules' marriage is strained from the affair, the kids stops talking to their moms, and Paul is exiled from contact with their family. But the Allgood family makes up when Joni goes off to college and Nic and Jules show hints at reconciliation.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • When Laser asks his moms if they thought he was gay, they both awkwardly deny it.
    Laser: Did you guys think I was gay?
    Nic: No. No way. Well of course not.
    • When they return home after dinner with Paul, Nic confronts Jules about her having an affair. Jules denies it but then admits to the affair and Nic is devastated.
    Jules: (tearing up) Because I was working, and I got dirty, and I took a shower.
    Nic: Yeah? Did you take a nap too?
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Why Jules had an affair with Paul.
  • Bifauxnen: Nic is a not-so Butch Lesbian.
  • Billed Above the Title: In the film's actual OBB, the actors who played the three main adults got this treatment. The movie poster, however, puts the five main leads in this manner (see page image).
  • Blond, Brunette, Redhead: The three adults; Nic (blond), Paul (brunette) and Jules (redhead). Also, the moms with their kids Joni (blonde) and Laser (brunette).
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Paul is this. When the lesbian Jules finds herself inexplicably making out with the male Paul, they make their way to the bed where she finally pulls down his underwear only to offer an astonished "Whoa... Hello!!!". They proceed to have amazing sex afterwards.
  • The Big Damn Kiss:
    • Joni gets drunk and shares one with her guy friend at a party. What happens next is never aknowledged between the two.
    • Unusually, Jules shares one with Paul.
  • Big "OMG!": Jules after sharing a kiss with Paul, much to her confusion.
  • Bisexual Love Triangle: The plot twist interestingly, with Nic/Jules/Paul.
  • Brick Joke: Cigarettes. Jules saying she wants a cigarette after having sex with Paul. The next they do, Paul says he got her a pack to smoke.
  • But Not Too Gay: Compare the way gay and straight sex is depicted, hilariously since one part of the nominally gay couple is having straight sex she comes across as in the closet...about her bisexuality.
  • Candlelit Bath: Nic fixes one together for her and Jules to share. Unfortunately, Nic gets distracted by work and leaves Jules in the bath.
  • Character Title: Joni and Laser as the titular kids of the film.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Early in the movie it is established that Jules has a tendency to leave hair in drains and Nic has a knack for finding it.
  • Chick Magnet: The ladies sure love Paul. Even the not straight ones.
  • Closet Gay: Or in this case, closet bisexual.
  • Cure Your Gays: What Nic fears Paul has done to Jules through an affair during their argument.
    Nic: (through tears) Are you straight now?
    Jules: No, it's got nothing to do with that!
  • Cool Bike: Paul owns one.
  • Cringe Comedy: Not too badly, but there are a lot of awkward moments. Loud gay porn, Clay playing around with a dildo he found snooping in Nic and Jules' room. Clay attempting to pee on a stray dog.
  • The Danza: Jules Allgood (portrayed by Julianne Moore).
  • Dead Sparks: Nic and Jules are clearly struggling with the fact that their relationship is this.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Joni starts drinking heavily at a party after learning about Paul and Jules' affair.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Laser's friend Clay likes to snort crushed up powder and knock over people's trashcans on his skateboard. Among other things.
  • Ethical Slut: Joni's friend Sasha who enjoys making everything sexual, encourages Joni to start having sex in college and lusts after several boys in high school and Joni's dad Paul.
  • Exiled to the Couch: Jules, though she may have decided to do so herself.
  • Fan Disservice: Jules giving oral sex to her wife Nic while Nic watches gay porn, but it is sloppy and less than titillating.
  • Fanservice:
    • The gay male porn Nic and Jules watch together.
    • Paul and Tanya having brief sex.
    • Paul and Jules' kiss and sex scenes.
    • Jules having a romantic bath.
  • Farm Boy: Paul owns a farm that produces organic fruits and vegetables.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: Nic is The Cynic, Jules is The Conflicted, Paul is The Optimist, Joni is The Realist and Laser is The Apathetic.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Nic is Choleric, Jules is Melancholic, Paul is Sanguine, Joni is Leukine and Laser is Phlegmatic.
  • Friends with Benefits:
    • Paul with Roxy.
    • Paul with Jules.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Laser thinking Paul "is full of himself."
    • Jules leaving her hair in the bathroom sink drain and Nic finding it.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Both Nic and Jules.
  • Get Out!: Nic screams this after learning of Jules' and Paul's affair.
  • Gilligan Cut: Jules and Paul agree that they shouldn't be having an affair and break things off. Smash Cut to them lying in bed together having just had sex.
  • Glorified Sperm Donor: Deconstructed. Paul has never been a part of the kids' life until the events of the film, but to some (ambiguous) extent he sees himself, and they see him, as some sort of parental figure. Nic doesn't like this. Eventually, though, she accepts her children's desire to know their biological father. Until other things get in the way...
  • Granola Girl: Paul encourages the other characters to go green. Jules also loves to eat organic foods.
  • Guy-on-Guy Is Hot: Nic and Jules like to watch gay porn together. Laser finds out. They have a hard time explaining it.
  • Has Two Mommies: The film's main setting.
  • Heroic BSoD: Nic after finding Jules' hair in Paul's bathroom and shower and realizing that the two are having an affair.
  • Hereditary Homosexuality: Lesbian couple Nic and Jules believe that their son Laser is gay due to his close friendship with Clay. Turns out they were wrong.
  • Heel Realization: Laser realizes how horrible a person his "friend" Clay is when the guy attempts to urinate on a stray dog and punched Laser in the face for stopping it.
  • Hope Spot: When the Allgood family has dinner at Paul's house, it seems as if everybody will be getting along together just fine, especially Nic and Paul. Then the affair is discovered.
  • It's All About Me: Laser and Nic believe Paul is coming off as this. They turn out to be right. When the affair is discovered, instead of consoling Jules Paul suggests she leave Nic and raise the kids with him. Jules is understandably upset by this and hangs up on him.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Paul develops feelings for Jules, who is a lesbian.
    Paul: I...I think I'm falling for you.
    Jules: Oh, God. Paul. Don't.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: The lesbian Jules doesn't consider herself "straight" but she enjoys having sex with Paul.
  • Immodest Orgasm:
    • Thanks to Jules and Nic accidentally hitting the remote, the gay porn noises coming from their TV gets loud. Nic fears that the whole neighborhood heard their TV.
    • Jules achieves this when she has sex with Paul.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Nic has a bit too much to drink when she has to deal with Paul's interactions with the kids.
  • Interrupted Intimacy:
    • When Nic and Jules are in the middle of oral sex (or at least trying to) while watching gay porn, they accidentally hit the remote causing the volume to turn up louder and attract the attention of their daughter Joni.
    • When Jules and Paul have sex for the first time, they're interrupted by her Hispanic gardener calling for her.
  • It Doesn't Mean Anything: Jules' reaction when she reveals the affair to Nic. Although she enjoyed sex with Paul, she claims she has not "turned straight" and that she still loves Nic. Unfortunately, Paul had developed feelings for her.
  • It Meant Something to Me: Paul falls for Jules during their affair together and after it's discovered, he suggests that she leave Nic, take the kids and live with him. Jules is appalled by this suggestion.
  • Jerkass:
    • Nic, to a certain extent. Her uncomfortableness with Paul is understandable, but it doesn't really make her that much more of a likable character.
    • Clay. He tries to pee on a dog.
  • Just Friends: Joni and the guy friend she's crushing on in the beginning. At first.
  • Karma Houdini: Other than an affair, Nic suffers no real repercussions for pushing her kids around or neglecting her wife.
  • Lampshade Hanging: A not-so-subtle wink to the audience when Jules and Nic explain to their son why they don't watch lesbian porn instead of gay male porn.
    Jules: You would think that. But in most of those movies, they've hired two straight women to pretend and the inauthenticity is just unbearable.
    Nic: (cutting her off) Okay, that's enough!
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Jules, who is more feminine than her wife Nic.
  • Love Triangle: Nic/Jules/Paul.
  • Manchild: Paul, who grows during the film as he realizes that he would really like to have kids and a proper family. He shouldn't try to wrangle himself the ready-made one Nic and Jules have though.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Short-haired and abrasive Nic is clearly the "man" in the relationship, right down to her Tomboyish Name, the fact that she's the primary breadwinner in the family, and that Jules frequently complains about feeling neglected by her. Jules, conversely, is long-haired, slightly flaky—Nic cites multiple jobs or endeavors that she's taken on over the years—and as the neglected "woman", eventually has an affair.
  • Married to the Job: Nic with her job. It keeps her from spending a romantic moment with Jules at one point.
  • Maybe Ever After: The film hints at a possible reconciliation between Nic and Jules at the end.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Laser, by Nic and Jules. They're quite surprised to find out what he's actually been up to.
  • Moment Killer: Twice for Nic and Jules. First when they're attempting to have sex while watching gay porn together. And the second time when they attempt a romantic bath together, only for Nic to get distracted by a phone call from work.
  • Mood Whiplash: Paul and Nic hit it off at dinner and finally, genuinely start to get along. . .then she realizes that he's been sleeping with Jules and it all goes to hell.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Nic and Jules named Joni after Joni Mitchell.
  • Never My Fault: Nic's reaction when Jules admits that she had an affair because she felt she wasn't being appreciated enough by Nic. Nic doesn't believe she is at fault for anything, and she and the kids blame Jules instead. Then when all else fails, everyone decides to pin the blame on Paul for the family being driven apart. Even thought it wasn't entirely Paul or Jules' fault.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: If Jules and Paul hadn't started an affair, Paul and Nic would have had gotten along longer and he would still be a part of the family.
  • No Bisexuals: Jules insists that she's a lesbian even after she has sex with Paul several times (and clearly enjoys it). This results in some Unfortunate Implications.
  • The Nose Knows: At Paul's house, Nic goes into Paul's bedroom and smells his sheets and pillows. Instantly recognizing her wife Jules' scent on them and confirming her worst that they're having an affair.
  • Not So Different: Joni being uptight and a bit of drinker just like her birth mom Nic.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Nic getting sober and not drinking when having at Paul's with her family. A sign that she's improving.
  • The One Guy: Laser is the only male in his family.
  • Open-Minded Parent: Nic and Jules wouldn't mind if Laser was gay. They just don't want him hooking up with someone as negative as Clay.
  • Panty Shot: Jules underwear gets exposed while she's gardening. Paul takes advantage of the sight.
  • Parents Walk In at the Worst Time: Jules enters Laser's room to complain about him leaving his bike in their driveway and finds him and Clay watching a gay porn film they found in his moms room.
  • Pet the Dog: Nic complimenting her wife Jules and telling her that she's so proud of her landscaping design for Paul's garden.
  • Parental Sexuality Squick: Laser's reaction to how his moms met in UCLA. Involving tongue.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Nic delivers one to Paul after his affair with Jules almost ruined their family.
  • Secretly-Gay Activity: Jules and Nic think that Laser is engaging in this with his buddy Clay. Turns out he was actually contacting his biological father Paul.
  • Shower of Angst: Jules takes one as she gets conflicted in her affair with Paul.
  • Slut-Shaming: Joni tells off Sasha for being so sexual, even calling her a slut at one point.
  • Smoking Hot Sex: Jules says she wants a cigarette, after having sex with Paul, though she doesn't smoke anymore. However, he doesn't have any.
  • Sorry, I'm Gay: Jules has to remind Paul she's gay, even after their affair ended and he wants to raise Joni and Laser with her.
  • Stacy's Mom: Inverted. Joni's best friend is the one who lusts over Paul.
  • Those Two Guys: Jules has two best friends, a guy and a girl. Of the two, the girl acts as her Bromantic Foil and The Lancer while the guy is nothing but a Satellite Love Interest.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Clay seems like this to Laser, according to Jukes and Nic. Asking Laser how is Clay going to help him grow.
  • The Unfair Sex: Paul and Jules have an affair. First, it's implied to be Nic's fault (who, as breadwinner, is apparently the "man" in the relationship) for not being attentive enough to Jules' needs. Then, when it's discovered, Jules is eventually forgiven while it now becomes all Paul's fault—he's shunned and treated like dirt by everyone, including Jules, who acts downright disgusted that he genuinely wants to be with her. The affair was wrong on all sides but Paul didn't deserve to have all of the blame dumped on him.
    • The Exiled to the Couch implies that Jule's and Nic's relationship has suffered to some degree and the ending makes it clear the main couple have some issues to work out.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Joni and the guy friend she's crushing on.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Laser's curiosity about who his biological dad is leads to his family nearly being driven apart due to Paul and Jules' having an affair.
  • Waxing Lyrical: As a sign of how Nic and Paul are getting along at the dinner, they start singing "All I Want" together.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Joni has a whole romantic subplot with her guy friend that is never really resolved.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Nic, Joni and Laser's reaction to Jules having an affair with Paul. Jules' reaction to Paul wanting her to break up with Nic and raise the kids with him. And Nic, Jules, Joni and Laser's reaction to Paul for the affair and nearly destroying their family.
  • Was It All a Lie?: After learning of Paul's affair with her mom Jules, Joni asks Paul if their familial bonding together was all a lie. Paul insists it wasn't a lie and that he loved bonding with his biological kids.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Laser. Also Clay as well.

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