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'Obvious Child' review: The timeline of an abortion

Jenny Slate and writer/director Gillian Robespierre attend an Academy screening of "Obvious Child."
Jenny Slate and writer/director Gillian Robespierre attend an Academy screening of "Obvious Child."
Photo by Robin Marchant

Obvious Child (movie)


After the recent uproar over the SCOTUS decision to permit companies religious freedom when choosing healthcare options for their employees, namely declining the coverage of birth control, women can still find a relatable voice in their struggles in the quirky indie film “Obvious Child.” The timeline of the film covers the events that lead to an abortion and how the woman finds solace in friendship and family and manages to share humor throughout. Like a twenty-something version of “Juno” but with many fart jokes, “Obvious Child” seeks to remove the taboo of the subject of unplanned pregnancy and share the common reactions of the present.

Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) works at a local bookstore, does stand-up comedy, and is nearing thirty. After being dumped by her boyfriend and notified of the closure of the book shop, Donna reacts as most admittedly immature, young people do: she gets completely drunk and makes regrettable decisions. One such decision includes going home with a stranger she meets at the bar at which she does her comedy. After finding out she’s pregnant a few weeks later, Donna debates whether or not to tell Max (Jake Lacy), the stranger, that she’s decided to have an abortion. With support from her friends, Nellie (Gaby Hoffmann) and Joey (Gabe Liedman), and mother (Polly Draper), Donna attempts to make the right decisions.

The lovely thing about “Obvious Child” is its ordinary portrayal of abortion. The film treats abortion as commonplace; everyone in the film knows someone who has had one. This is not a film trying to earn your sympathy or pity for its main character and therefore hitting you over the head with a political statement. Like “Juno,” it does not promote unplanned pregnancy but rather accepts it as reality and depicts a likely outcome. “Obvious Child” is not a political statement but a glimpse into society and this generation.

For all of its honesty, though, “Obvious Child” is still a best-case-scenario film; Donna has enough money for the procedure and she’s surrounded by supportive people. It’s a happy-go-lucky presentation without turning to extreme difficulties to make a point, once again avoiding an over-the-top example to make a statement.

“Obvious Child” is a perfect representation of this current generation of romantic comedy. Balancing immature humor with blunt commentary, similar to Sarah Silverman’s style, the fun of the film feels natural and relatable. Donna and Max’s flirtation is especially similar to films like “Juno” (again), in which the lead female is sometimes rudely funny while the gentleman’s innocence is attracted to it. “Obvious Child” reflects the current times and youth so well that it will become a talisman for the decade.

Rating for “Obvious Child:” A

For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.

“Obvious Child” is playing at AMC Lennox and with limited showtimes at Gateway in Columbus. For showtimes, click here.