“Obvious Child” may be the first romantic comedy with abortion at its centerpiece and guess what? It’s funny…laugh outloud funny. And that is in no small part due to its breakout star, Jenny Slate, and a terrific supporting cast.
Directed by Gillian Robespierre and written by Robespierre, with story by Karen Maine and Elisabeth Holm based on the short film written by Anna Bean, Maine and Robespierre, “Obvious Child” is the story of Brooklyn standup comic, Donna Stern (Jenny Slate). Picture a sweeter, but just as dirty and outrageously funny Sarah Silverman, and that is Donna. As the movie opens, Donna is about to experience some of the worse weeks of her life. In short order she is dumped by her boyfriend…in the comedy club bathroom of all places…loses her day job and becomes pregnant from a one night stand. Wow! I’m already beginning to feel better about my life.
The film is extremely relatable, even in its crudeness and its frequent hilarity at Donna’s expense. The stalking, the drunken messages, the worrying about the next paycheck…most of us have been there at one time or another. Even the subject of abortion will hit home for many. We can empathize and identify with Donna’s struggle to get out of her rut and move on with her life.
“Obvious Child” is not a perfect movie. There are just a few too many “meet cute” coincidences with Max (Jake Lacey), Donna’s one night stand. Also, as someone who has done some standup, material isn’t normally put together on the fly as Donna does it. That’s not to say it’s impossible, just rare. Whatever the case, the standup scenes work and are hilarious…heartbreakingly so, in some cases.
What is perfection is “Obvious Child’s” acting. As already noted, Slate is wonderful. She brings a genuine naturalness to her acting. As Max, Jake Lacey is also terrific. He, too, makes his character seem very real. Gaby Hoffmann as Nellie, Donna’s roommate and best friend ever, and Gabe Liedman as her comedy colleague, Joey, are both excellent as supportive friends. Together, they feel like true 20-something friends trying to find their way. Adding depth to the supporting cast are Polly Draper and Richard Kind as Donna’s brilliant, divorced parents.
“Obvious Child” is most definitely not for everyone. Abortion is not a topic with which everyone is comfortable. And “Obvious Child’s” tone regarding abortion certainly won’t convert them. But if you are seeking something bold…something funny with substance…something original… something brilliantly written and performed…then it’s obvious what should be on your must-see list…”Obvious Child.”