You should know right away that I’m in love with this movie. As soon as I saw the trailer, I was in love with this movie. I wish I was watching this movie right now instead of blogging about it. 86 minutes was not long enough. Hilarious abortion comedies are totally my bag.
I joke. Sort of.
The truth is that I’m really interested in women being funny, and real, about singularly female issues like abortion, miscarriage, pregnancy. Obvious Child pulled off this feat in an impeccable (and hysterical) way. Writer Gillian Robespierre has made her place among the pioneers of this kind of truth-telling comedy – Diablo Cody (who wrote Juno) and Judd Apatow (who writes everything, but in this circumstance I refer mostly to his 2007 one-night-stand pregnancy comedy Knocked Up.)
The movie opens in a comedy club. We catch 20-something comedienne Donna Stern (played by the brilliant and scrumptious Jenny Slate) mid-set. As a comic – and it turns out as a human – she is hilarious, vulgar, relentless. Nothing is sacred. In the very best way. The stage is a like a live diary where Donna shares herself completely (sometimes to the dismay of the people in her life.)
Tragedy strikes at the start of the movie. Donna suffers a breakup and a job loss. She responds as any self-disrespecting drunk woman would. She has a one-night stand. With a gentile.
Donna and Max (Jake Lacy) meet in the bathroom of a dingy bar. She’s sloppy drunk. He gets sloppy drunk right along with her and they end up going home together. It’s a night of wicked awesome dance moves, horrible drunken antics and hilarity. My husband and I started out in much the same way. We’ve been together for 18 years, so right away I had a lot of hope for these guys. The one big difference between us and them is that she gets pregnant on that fateful “first date.”
It is here where Robespierre distinguishes herself from her counterparts. We know right away that Donna is going to get an abortion. It appears Robespierre stands in that glorious place where she doesn’t give a shit about a palatable story. She gives a shit about a real story. Abortion is portrayed through a realistic lens, this story told with great tenderness and transparency. The word “abortion” is not allowed to pull focus from what’s genuine in this narrative. Here is a decision this woman made about her life and here are the painful and lovely things that come out of that decision.
Early on in the film, Donna’s father (Richard Kind) says, “Creative energy sometimes comes from the lowest point in your life.” I think it’s fair to say that the people who made this movie wielded that creative energy for the good. We are given a great gift in Obvious Child. The key to life is handed to us on a pee-your-pants-funny silver platter. This entire movie is a testament to the fact that when you can laugh at it, and share that laughter with others, it can’t get you anymore.