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PBIFF ’14 Review – “Obvious Child”

April 11, 2014

Screen shot 2014-04-11 at 6.45.04 PMI had the chance to attend seven screenings atthe Palm Beach International Film Festival this year, and it took a film that came from this years Sundance (one I badly wanted to see, but missed out on), to turn out to be the best movie of PBIFF. “Obvious Child” is not an easy sell, when you say the film is an abortion rom-com, and I don’t mean abortion in the sense that the movie sucks, no-no, I’m actually talking about ABORTION, controversial ABORTION, if you catch my drift. And with the big ‘A-word’ stamping the film one could only wonder how a subject such as that can be handled.

Brooklyn comedienne, Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) has the worst week ahead of her. After an incredible set at a local comedy club, Donna’s long time boyfriend decides to dump her; for he’s fallen in love with her best friend. After this sudden break-up/betrayal, she learns that the bookstore she’s worked for, a NY institution for some, is being shut down; she’s fired. To make matters worse, after having a one night stand with the nicest guy around, Donna learns she’s pregnant with his bastard child. Donna’s solution is ‘the final solution’, believe me when I say that is not the only ‘Holocaust joke’ in this film. Her scheduled appointment with the doctor to fix her little hiccup just so happens to be set on Feb. 14th, leading to what could be a combo of the worst/best St. Valentine’s Day of her life.

It’s better to go into this movie with little to no knowledge about the potential taboo it is tackling, however, writer/director Gillian Robespierre finds ways around the rough edges and tells a sweet, nuanced, not to mention, tear-laughing comedy that should bring most to a neutral ground. I’ve always liked Jenny Slate since the moment she joined SNL, sure she lasted one season, however, Slate has been hopscotching the comedy scene every which way, showing up in shows like “Parks and Recreation”, “Girls”, and “Bored to Death”. This is her first starring vehicle, and she owns every single minute of it, besides being drop dead adorably Jewish, Jenny finds a way to make such topical taboos regarding her character’s stature as a comic and as an average female 20-something New Yorker somewhat profound.

Slate manages to bubble up the chemistry with her roundabout supporting cast of players, including the likes of Gabby Hoffman, Jake Lacy, Richard Kind, Polly Draper, Gabe Liedman and David Cross. Her relationship with Lacy’s character is sweet, heartfelt, and altogether funny. Lacy’s character, Max, was handled quite possibly the most responsible and respectful male character in a movie such as this. There where opportunities where the film could’ve gone “Knocked Up”-style, and the fact that Gillian decided to direct it for real and authentic added something to the film; an honest voice about the 20-somethings of today.

“Obvious Child” is based on the short film, that featured Jenny Slate as the original Donna, having the shorts co-creator, Gillian Robespierre, return to direct her first feature film. This is a great example for many up and coming filmmakers, who feel that if they wanna make a feature, sometimes starting small, will blossom into something big. Props all around for creating a memorable/unorthodox romantic comedy.

GRADE: A-

Aaron Shore, is a contributing blogger for the film sites of Hudak on Hollywood & Midnight Reviews.

You can follow Aaron on Twitter @DoubleAAProd

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