It’s often said that ‘two’s company, three’s a crowd’ and for the family in Lisa Cholodenko’s heartwarming 2010 comedy The Kids Are All Right, this expression takes on a whole new meaning.
Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) are just like any other married couple, albeit one with the breeziness and eccentricity that comes with LA life. As a doctor, Nic’s futile attempts to imbue her family with her love of order and organisation is in stark contrast to Jules’ relaxed parenting style, creating a family dynamic that is in equal parts comedic and complex.
Despite their differences, the mums are a united front as they navigate the challenges that come with raising their teenage children Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson). Just like their mums, the two kids couldn’t be more different, but somehow the four have a balance that just works.
No matter how well things seem to be going, you can always count on life to throw you a curveball. Though most teenagers can’t wait to distance themselves from their parents, for Laser, Joni’s newfound adulthood brings with it the chance to discover how they came to be. Meeting the sperm donor responsible for your existence is no big deal, right?
Enter rugged, free-spirited restaurant owner Paul (Mark Ruffalo), until now the nameless piece of the biological puzzle that enabled Nic and Jules to grow their family. Though he is not exactly the fatherliest of figures, his connection with Joni and Laser is immediate, and the three are suddenly saddled with a secret that none of them are keen to share.
Call it mother’s intuition, but for Nic and Jules, it’s clear that something is going on. Joni’s out-of-character secretiveness and Laser’s volatility seem to point to only one thing. As they sit down with Laser in the hope of getting to the bottom of things, the two think they’ve got it all worked out. It’s one thing to suspect your child might be gay, but another entirely to discover that he’s been meeting his biological father behind your back.
In an attempt to keep their potential enemy close, Nic and Jules decide to invite Paul for an interrogation disguised as lunch, in the hope that a peace offering of hot dogs and potato salad will somehow defuse the inevitable tension. The combination of delicious, feel-good food and Paul’s relaxed charm makes the meeting just about tolerable for the mums.
As the kids continue to explore their relationship with Paul, however, and Jules takes on a landscaping project at his new property, Nic finds herself on the outer. Betrayal has a way of opening up old wounds and the two wildly different mums have to figure out how to reconcile their differences all over again.
As with everything in life, these unexpected shake ups bring change, but as in the case of Nic and Jules, that change isn’t always unwelcome. The same can be said for these kimchi hot dogs, which revive a summer classic and lend themselves to reinvention after reinvention. Even the humble hot dog deserves a second chance. Add a generous helping of kimchi salsa, slather on the siracha and celebrate the unconventional. After all, convention is overrated.
Watch ‘The Kids Are All Right’ at SBS On Demand
Find the recipe at SBS Food