Friday, January 28, 2011

The Kids Are All Right & Toy Story 3

In The Kids Are All Right, a laid-back suburban California household is cast into disarray when the two teenage kids, Joni and Laser, decide to contact their sperm-donor father, Paul (Supporting Actor nominee Mark Ruffalo).  His appearance throws everyone's relationship into sharp relief, bringing up difficult issues in everyone's life and redefining their expectations of each other.  After the unexpected phone call, Paul wrestles with his feelings about family and commitment. After meeting Paul, Joni and Laser have to come to terms with how to define their relationships – and how far they want him in their lives. Once they find out what their kids have done the parents, Nic and Jules (Nominee Annette Benning and Julianne Moore) question their parenting and their marriage while trying to define a place for newcomer Paul and establish boundaries within their family.

Oh, didn't I mention that the parents are both women?  No?  Probably because the movie doesn't make a big deal about it either.

Those boundaries are pushed and frictions arise as Paul becomes more and more involved in the kids' lives, infiltrating the family, much to the dismay of the protective Nic.

In Toy Story 3, the familiar residents of Andy's toy chest find their lives in disarray when they're donated to a local daycare center. Things seem great at first, but the situation soon turns sinister when they uncover the machinations of the center's leader, Lotso. The move to this new environment forces the toys to question their roles and their purpose in life. Is their loyalty to Andy or to the dozens of kids at the center who lack the emotional connection that they're used to?  The toys struggle to find a place at the daycare while maintaining the boundaries and roles of their old life.

In their own ways, both films deal with change and how difficult and important it is for people to adjust their perceptions and their relationships. Nic in Kids and Jesse in Toy Story 3 find trouble by remaining rigid, refusing to give up their old status quo. Conversely, the kids in Kids and several of the toys in Toy Story 3 (including Barbie, Rex, and Ham) are more flexible, accepting with the change in their lives, but not without disappointment and heartache.  Each movie shows us that the answer is somewhere in between - it's important to accept change, but not at the expense of your self and your family.

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