Movie Review: Obvious Child


In January of 2014, a movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to a mixture of reviews. It seems that Obvious Child has only two outcomes. You either love it or you hate it. The main reason for this love/hate relationship is the controversy that surrounds the film. Obvious Child is a film about... comedy. No, seriously, it's about a stand up comedian trying to make people laugh. Oh, and there's a sub-story about abortion which might be the actual source of controversy.

Obvious Child is one of the few films I've seen that tackles a huge topic such as abortion without making it the center of the story. It's there, it's mentioned a few times, but there's no real story to it. Instead, Obvious Child focus' on the relationships between the characters, Donna Stern (Jenny Slate), specifically. Donna is a stand up comedian that works in a bookstore to pay the rent. As her personal life starts to fall apart, she spends a night getting extremely drunk. A few weeks later while complaining about some cramps to her roommate, she realizes she must be pregnant. The story continues and that was it. She realized she was pregnant and made a decision. The film does go into the sub-story to bring it full circle, but that's it. No protests, no fighting, no internal or external conflict. Since it's just a small part of the story, and the one that most news outlets are fixated on, I'm sure that I'm not actually spoiling anything by saying that the plot does have an end.

The film itself was actually better than I anticipated for the reasons mentioned above. I went in thinking that it was going to be a huge politically motivated film. It wasn't perfect and I wouldn't run out to see it again, but the film did have a quality to it that which makes it worth seeing at least once. The actors could have been a little more uplifting. For a stand up comedian, Donna was more awkward funny than actually funny. Max (Jake Lacy), the baby daddy, was too stiff. Even before he knows what is going on, he just seems too forced and out of place. He was a business student that went to the club where Donna performed her stand up. From his clothing to his posture, he just didn't belong. If you're Jewish, or understand Jewish references, such as Birthright (best ten days of my life) you will laugh a lot more than your counterparts.

My personal opinion of Obvious Child is that it will have a small following, but will most likely not succeed against major motion pictures. Prior to beginning writing reviews, I would have never even thought twice about an indie film. Now that I've seen a few, I would have to rank this as one of the better indies. If you have a small theater near you and Obvious Child is playing there, I recommend seeing it. You will laugh, you will leave with some food for thoughts, but you will see the subtle brilliance in the way it was written. I hope that major studios take note that subtly is still an art and stop trying to force their views on the public.

Obvious Child does not currently have a national release date. It will begin playing in select theaters by the end of June. As an independent film, it will most likely be in and out of smaller theaters at random times. Check your local area to see if and when it is playing.

Movie Rating for Obvious Child

I received my passes to see Obvious Child though The Collaborative, an organization for young Jewish professionals in Philadelphia. Free movie passes aren't always just through radio stations. Check out my post about free movie screenings for more ways to see movies before they're released.


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