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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Obvious Child Movie Review

"Obvious Child" is one of the funniest flicks to hit theaters this year, even though there's an abortion at the heart of it. It's not political or preachy in nature, which is hard to believe, given the context. Late-20s female fails at relationship, loses her job, has an abortion, and still cracks everyone up. This is a feminist film with a lot of cojones.

Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) is an aspiring comedian who tells it like it is on stage, hitting topics like flatulence and the reality of dirty women's underwear, while referring to herself as a bagel salesman and Natalie Imbruglia crossed with a menorah. She generates big laughs, but life could be better, and then it gets a little worse. Good thing she has an awesome, cheer-me-up friend (Gaby Hoffmann) and a sweet Christian boy (Jake Lacy) around to cushion the blows.

There are so many stories about the epidemic of lost 20-somethings these days, and they're often told in intelligent, self-deprecating, and hysterical ways (from "Girls" to "Frances Ha"). But no film has treated abortion quite like this before. Donna accidentally gets pregnant, she doesn't want it, she makes up her mind, nobody tries to change her mind, and that's it. That is what happens in real life too but it's never on the big screen. Instead the word "abortion" is rarely ever used, just something hideous that shalt not be named, like Voldemort.

That is very refreshing about "Obvious Child" and it takes the movie to another level. But it would be a well-told, sarcastic, compelling story regardless. Slate is a comedic mastermind, between her dry-yet-quirky deliveries, her distinct voice on the "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On" videos, and the edgy characters she plays on shows like "Parks and Recreation" and "Hello Ladies." She's so much more than that girl who cursed on SNL that one season. Writer/director Gillian Robespierre found the perfect star to drive her movie, which has plenty to offer.

There are bizarre things, like David Cross' character trying to be sexy in a women's floral camisole, and Donna having an entire conversation with her love interest while sitting in a giant cardboard box. Then there are clever bits, like Donna's thoughts coming out of a radio during a trying moment. Then the sweet parts, such as the guy warming butter with his hands for her over the dinner table. And real scenes, like a grown woman laying in bed with her mom, crying like she can't hold back.

"Obvious Child" also has a great soundtrack, with the eponymous Paul Simon tune as the most familiar. Forgettable films come out month after month, year after year, but movies like "Obvious Child" give you that rare feeling like you've seen something special.

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