Obvious Child


Obvious Child (2014)

Directed by Gillian Robespierre

In the beginning, oversharing comedian and romantic heroine Donna, played to the nines by Jenny Slate, stages her bit on “the human vagina”.  She had us at hello.  When Donna proceeds to get dumped and drunk by her loser boyfriend, Gaby Hoffman provides solace as her very supportive friend/reality check, a fireball when she gets going. That she is also Donna’s roommate and best friend is less believeable (though this is the GIRLS era). Jake Clancy comes along as the young fraternity guy stud who isn’t so likely to be in the next borough hanging out with super saucy comedy girls. Thankfully he doesn’t want to sleep with Donna’s mother (that would be The Graduate), though he is an admirer of hers. Instead he’s content to try on the mother’s bright orange crocs in the hallway, and then take the daughter out for a dinner that only makes Donna clam up further about the fact that that she is pregnant with his child, made on their drunken one-night stand. Unlike Knocked UP, they actually like each other from the start. The only conflict is the pregnancy itself, how to talk about it, how to deal with it, and then negotiate real feelings around it. There is hardly ever a happy ending around this subject matter in life or in film, so this is one is refreshing, in terms of its focus on a woman’s empowered choice, and the romance potential. Like but unlike Juno, the girl’s gotta do what she must do, the right thing at the right time. This time she involves her audience, her best friends, and finally her studmuffin in the process of coming to terms with it. It is fun, hilarious, and amusing, and it packs enough punch and circumstance to carry it as a film that might more likely be a series. The rotating sets are a little limiting, for example, Donna cornered in pre-stage anxiety in the unisex graffiti bathroom at the club, or at her apartment, or at her parents. If it seems a bit slight in scope, the original humor knocks it out of the park, and the relationship between Donna and her mother, played by Penny Draper, is moving (if comparable to the likes of Lena Dunham and her mother in Tiny Furniture). Obvious Child is a sweet and savory delight, with the subject of abortion to ground it. Its heart of humor saves the characters from what could be their worst selves. The “obvious child” (great song by Paul Simon) may eventually be lucky enough to have this pair, who may finally settle in together. One might find wet eyes at the end, however unexpectedly.


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