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'Kids Are All Right' beats the odds

The headline story on the box-office news was the shoot-out between "Salt" and "Inception." But the most surprising story landed right under the top ten. While expanding to 201 theaters, "The Kids Are All Right," a refreshingly witty and observant family comedy-drama, continued to sell out everywhere it played, nabbing over $13,000 per screen.

The reactions I've gotten to this film from readers have been euphoric. The one carping e-mail I received complained that it was "pleasant" but too mild: "Other than depicting a lesbian family with the same issues as any other family, (indeed, my husband and I nudged one another several times during the movie  --  in fact, I have used Julianne Moore's words exactly re: no support for my career, which I, nonetheless, went on to do without it and which she, 'Jules,' used as an excuse, I thought), the film didn't seem to be all that fabulous."

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I guess it depends on how you define "fabulous." When was the last time you saw a domestic dramedy that had you and your spouse experiencing simultaneous jolts of recognition?

It was made completely independently. Bart Walker, the Baltimore born-and-bred partner in New York's Cinetic Media, spent years cobbling together the financing that brought "The Kids Are All Right" before the cameras.

Walker told the Sun last week, ""Focus [Features] kept in close touch with it because the people there were so enamored of [director-cowriter] Lisa [Cholodenko] and the project. They were right there at Sundance watching the movie and came up to us afterward and said they wanted to distribute it."

But if companies like Focus were so high on it at Sundance, why didn't they step up to produce it in the first place?

Stipulating that giving the green light to any project is a difficult decision, Walker acknowledged that Cholodenko's previous works, such as the aptly titled "High Art" (1998), might not have prepared executives for her desire to make "a different kind of film: for lack of a better word or two, a more entertaining and accessible film." He also said that the many companies that passed on producing "The Kids Are All Right" might have been "concerned about how the subject matter would travel."

So far it's traveled spectacularly well. That's not just because long-term couples of all kinds recognize their ups and downs in the relationship of the lesbian couple played by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. It's also because older high school kids and college students can see coming-of-age quandaries caught with humor and sympathy (and without any sensationalism) in Cholodenko's portraits of their kids, played by Josh Hutcherson and Mia Wasikowska. (There they are at the Los Angeles premiere, above).

Have you seen the movie yet? Was the subject matter holding you back, as movie companies initially feared? What did you like about it?

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