Obvious Child

Obvious Child featured image

Gillian Robespierre, director & script based on a story by Karen Maine, Anna Bean and Robespierre

Starring: Jenny Slate (Donna Stern), Jake Lacy (Max), Gaby Hoffman (Nellie), David Cross (Sam), Richard Kind (Jacob Stern), Polly Draper (Nancy Stern)

For better or worse, Obvious Child is always going to be known as “that abortion comedy.” It’s certainly better than anonymity.

Is it even necessary to use the words “quirky” and “Indie” to describe the film? Obvious Child ticks off all the boxes. Sundance festival premiere? Yes. Subject of a successful Kickstarter campaign? Sure. Is star actor Jenny Slate a former member of Saturday Night Live? Of course. Did she live in Brooklyn? For years. How about Gaby Hoffman, who plays her best friend? She’s the daughter of former Andy Warhol superstar Viva! Gosh!

But—and you knew there’d be a “but”—Obvious Child is actually charming in parts and occasionally funny. And the real-life situation that motivates the plot is handled quite well.

Ah! The plot. Here ‘tis: Donna Stern, a stand-up comic by night and bookseller by day, gets dumped by her boyfriend so that he can move in with one of her most gorgeous girlfriend. Despite support from her best girlfriend Nellie, best gay boyfriend Sam and divorced but lovely and loving mother and father, Donna continues to take it on the chin. One night, she absolutely bombs on stage, gets drunk and ends up having sex with Max, the kind of WASP boyish man who devastates women (at least in most contemporary novels and sit-coms).

Donna is suffering so much that she fails to comprehend that Max really likes her. She’s wrapped up in packing the books from the now failing bookstore (no surprise there—sadly). Then, Donna discovers that she’s pregnant.

Well, we all know where this can go; we all remember previous quirky Indie hits Juno and Knocked Up, which played with the idea of abortion only to reject it. Without going into detail about how the various relationships between the characters work out, it’s fair to say that director/writer Gillian Robespierre has held her nerve.

Will Obvious Child do as much box-office business as Juno or Knocked Up? Sure you jest. Is the film as funny as Juno or Knocked Up? Well, no. But is it worth seeing? Um, let’s give it a qualified Yes. You’ve got to love a film that gets so many people upset.

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