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article imageReview: ‘Obvious Child’ breaks out of the rom-com mould Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Jun 19, 2014 in Entertainment
It’s a rare discovery to find a new concept in the romantic comedy category, but ‘Obvious Child’ is as fresh and funny as it is progressive.
There have been a number of comedies about unexpected pregnancy, but the pregnant woman generally struggles amusingly with the situation, does some soul searching and decides to carry to term. Long has been missing the voice of the woman who makes the opposite choice. Obvious Child is the romantic comedy that doesn't end in a cute, newly formed family.
Donna (Jenny Slate) is a stand-up comedian whose life is somewhat in shambles after her boyfriend dumps her and she loses her job. It's too soon for any of this to be good stage material, so instead Donna spends the night drowning her sorrows in alcohol. She is joined by a handsome stranger (Jake Lacy), which ultimately results in a one-night stand. A few weeks later, Donna discovers she's pregnant. Not ready to be a mother or wanting to have the child of a man she doesn't know, Donna decides to have an abortion.
In most discussions about this film, Donna's decision dominates the topic of conversation. A pro-choice, mainstream, rom-com is somewhat of a revelation; especially when the movie doesn't focus on the negatives. The narrative reveals other characters who elected to terminate their pregnancies, have no regrets and support Donna's decision without making her feel guilty. She's not forced to walk through a tunnel of protesters or endure the pressure of someone trying to change her mind. Donna is confident it's the right choice for her and that's enough. But in the end none of this should overshadow the fact that this is also a hilarious, intentionally awkward romantic comedy that will win audiences over with its honest portrayal of adults who don’t yet have it all together.
Donna is a foul-mouthed, twenty-something nearing 30 who uses her life to inspire her stand-up routine with few limits of what she won't talk about. When she's not experiencing an emotional crisis, she's actually very funny. Subjects include women's dirty underwear, sex with her boyfriend and her abortion. Slate has built a career around humor, in comedy clubs, on TV shows like Parks and Recreation and House of Lies, and as the co-creator of the short film Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. She's a natural in this breakout performance, which also has the benefit of being written and directed by women.
The romantic element is clearly not conventional either. The one-night stand nicknamed "pee farter," a.k.a. Max, is a wonderful guy. But when they accidentally run into each other after a failed attempt to reconnect, neither of their initial reactions are excitement. Instead Donna sabotages each of their encounters by allowing her understandable hesitation to lead and letting her emotional defense mechanisms take control. David Cross appears in one instance as interference, though the entire sequence appears superfluous to the narrative.
In an introduction for the film, Slate remarked that the movie has been dubbed an "abortion rom-com," which unfortunately may pigeonhole what is also a genuine and entertaining picture.
Director: Gillian Robespierre
Starring: Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy and Gaby Hoffmann
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