Obvious Child





Directed By: Gillian Robespierre


Starring: Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy, Gaby Hoffman, David Cross, Polly Draper, and Richard Kind


In the midst of Obvious Child, Gaby Hoffman has a scene-stealing moment during which she takes it to the judicial branch of government for legislating from the bench, particularly as it relates to the matters of a woman's body and abortion.  While I concur with Hoffman's character, there's a larger systemic issue at play here.  Judicial activism is a product of legislative inaction.  Disturbingly so, this country has continuously elected legislators to higher office who simply will not do the work for which they've been hired.  While Iā€™m endlessly delighted by the thought of Majority Leader Eric Cantor getting the boot he so rightfully deserves from the halls of Congress, I'm frightened by the thought that there's someone even nuttier to come from the 7th district of Virginia and others like it around the country.  We'll only have more legislative inertia in the wake of this week's primaries.  Electoral results like this are what fuel the judicial activism about which Hoffman rants in the movie.

Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) is a hot mess.  While the broke standup comic hasn't borrowed money from her mother Nancy (Polly Draper) in months, she doesn't seem too far away from asking again.  Tired of the monotony of their relationship and the incorporation of his life into her comedic act, her scoundrel boyfriend cheats on Donna with her longtime friend and dumps her soon thereafter.  To make matters worse, the book store at which Donna works and above which she lives is closing down.  Already without a boyfriend, Donna will soon be out of a job and a home as well.  Like everything else in her life, she incorporates her recent tailspin into her comedic act.

While out drinking one night, Donna meets a man by the name of Max (Jake Lacy).  She hits it off with this decent guy, especially after he accidentally farts in her face while peeing in the street.  They make love that night in what should have just been a one-night stand in Donna's mind.  The only problem with this is that these two lovers neglect to use a condom.  Soon thereafter, Donna notices that her chest is sore.  Her sister Nellie (Hoffman) suggests that she might be pregnant.  Because she neglected to use a condom with the pee farter, this is more of a reality than a possibility.  Once the test confirms this, Donna sets a date for her abortion, Valentine's Day.  She just doesn't know when or even if she's going to tell Max, the guy with whom she intended to just have a one-night stand.

Obvious Child is one of the most unique romantic comedies I've seen in quite a while.  Paradoxically lush with political overtones and what could only be deemed as politically incorrect (but amusing) commentary on adult womanhood, this indie romantic comedy-drama is a breath of fresh air.  Delicately directed by Gillian Robespierre, Obvious Child is at times a raunchy, raucously funny affair and at others an equally sweet and intimate depiction of the train wreck called adulthood.  Robespierre offers us a depiction of women who don't have everything together but are comfortable with what it really means to be a woman rather than aspiring to some archetype.  Moreover, she delivers an authentic romance that unapologetically tackles the subject of abortion.  I've got nothing but respect for this.

Robespierre has a great cast on her hands.  In the lead role as Donna Stern, we have Jenny Slate (House of Lies).  In what marks her first time headlining a feature film, Slate is erratic, irreverent, and irresistibly funny.  She brings the zany disposition necessary to balance out all the drama playing out in her character's life.  Robespierre gambles on Slate's performance carrying the film and wins big.  As her romantic interest Max, Jake Lacy portrays a decent, hard-working guy.  While nothing spectacular, his performance is laudable.  It's also nice to see a man portrayed in a positive light in such a female-driven film like Obvious Child.  Last, but certainly not least, we have Gaby Hoffman as Slate's on-screen sister Nellie.  Hoffman imbues her character with a certain warmth and intuition that clicks, but all I could think about in the movie is that hairy Crystal Fairy had a makeover whenever she's on screen.

Obvious Child is a delightful romantic comedy-drama.  While it starts out of the gate a little slow, it quickly picks up the pace and can endear just about any moviegoer watching.  This fun, quirky indie gets a 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers with this one.