A twenty-something comedienne's unplanned pregnancy forces her to confront the realities of independent womanhood for the first time.A twenty-something comedienne's unplanned pregnancy forces her to confront the realities of independent womanhood for the first time.A twenty-something comedienne's unplanned pregnancy forces her to confront the realities of independent womanhood for the first time.
Obvious Child could best be described as the anti-romantic-comedy, but its roots are very much brooding in the realm of the girl-centric, highly profitable genre. Yet, there is nothing highly alluring to Robespierre's truthfully crude comedy where a young comedienne shares the embarrassing exploits of her life, her bowel movements, her crusty underwear and her insecurities as a young twenty-something living in a desolate, hipster filled New York City.
Jenny Slate, whom I only know from the HBO show House of Lies, plays the twenty-something young comedienne. Slate wouldn't seem to fit the role by simply reading the script, but from page-to screen, Slate does a surprisingly great job as a young, lost independent, creatively misunderstood soul unleashing herself to the world and the loved ones around her.
The beginning of Donna Stern's (Slate) problems begin with her smelly, cheating boyfriend Ryan (Paul Briganti) dumping her and also admitting to her that he has been cheating on her with her best friend. Donna, who reacts almost like anyone else would, consuming a crap load of alcohol, moaning to friends and family and being miserable in any way possible, cinematically makes the break-up a lot more dramatic that it needs to be, especially since the foundation of Ryan and Donna's relationship is never seen or bonded with its audience. The break-up scene is literally the second scene in the film, so we don't empathize much with Donna. Sure enough, what's the best way to mend a broken heart? Sex! And what better way to get back with your ex than to hook up with Max (Jake Lacy), the most straight laced, squared-jaw guy anyone would find at a scuzzy bar in Brooklyn. Robespierre's dialogue does tread the line between originally inventive and subliminally juvenile, as the two's meet-cute begins by noticing each others "pee pee missiles", but hey, someone must have liked that line. Like any good drunken, dumped sex scheme, things don't necessarily go to plan, and a few weeks later, Donna's discomforting boobs lead to a pregnancy test with positive results. Perhaps not so positive for Donna.
Abortion comedies are a very sensitive topic for me, seeing that one of my favourite comedies of all time, Knocked Up, dealt with the topic and the disastrous results of unwanted, drunken hook-ups. Although the film was funded and aided with the help of a big studio, the film dealt with the realities of people trying to make things work, when things aren't obviously working around them. The beauty about a film like Obvious Child is that such a small, indie film never gets the pressures of big studio execs breathing down their throat, therefore, the film is able to venture off into very crude and appallingly real, taboo territory of female sexuality, cleanliness and comedy.
For the most part, Slate is excellent as Donna, a character whose journey of self-discovery and female empowerment begins the moment she gets up on the stage. One of the most obviously enjoyable parts of the film are Donna's stints of comedy on-stage. Her truthful, almost confessional type comedy is the basis of Robespierre's feature success, and brings up some of the most laughs for its audiences. It was a nice touch to see a new director handle stand-up comedy scenes gracefully and adequately edit them into the troubled world of a young girl who knows nothing about life. Donna's best stand-up scene is when she confronts the revelations of that fateful night, which turns into a therapeutic lapse into the epic non-prophylactic judgement of two people and the issues they must face or would face for the rest of their lives.
Donna's life is the basis of her comedy, and although her life is nothing to really roll on the ground, dying of laughter, her take on the realities of everyday life allow for the film to take small, hysterical turns for a relatable brand of female humour. Women all over the theatre were unable to contain their laughter. But although the film barely runs ninety minutes, one cannot help but notice how much the use of awkward silence and awkwardness accounts for the comedy, which at times took me away from the film. I am no fan or avid-watcher of Lena Dunham's Girls, but if a feature film of the popular HBO series were to be made into a movie, I am pretty sure it would look something similar to Obvious Child.
The uncomfortable realities of independent womanhood are the basis of Obvious Child's success as an independent feature. With an underlining motto of being "unapologetically yourself" despite your off-timing and overly crude jokes, the film is a mantra for the many urban women whose beaten up life in the city offers heartfelt laughs into raw comedy. Energetic, spunky and never dull, Slate brings new life to likable female characters whose delivery of crude comedic truth may turn off some, but inspire many.
- Jul 11, 2014