Sundance 2014: “Obvious Child” – Review by MovieManMenzel

Obvious Child is a unique take on the romantic comedy genre for those who don’t offend easily.

Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) is about to have the worst day of her life. Instead of flowers and candy for Valentine’s Day, Donna gets fired and learns that her long term boyfriend, Ryan (Paul Briganti) has been sleeping with another woman. In a desperate attempt to get her mind off things, Donna heads out to a local bar with her friend, Nellie (Gaby Hoffmann). A few hours and about a dozen cocktails later, Donna meets Max (Jake Lacy), the typical nice guy looking to meet a nice girl. After some playful banter, Donna and Max leave the bar and go back to Max’s for the night. The next morning, Donna gathers her things thinking that she will never see Max ever again, which unfortunately for Donna that isn’t the case. Just a few weeks after this wild one night stand, Donna learns that she is pregnant with Max’s child. A romantic comedy about love, stand-up comedy, and abortion ensues…

Obvious Child is one of those films that I simply read the plot description and decided to give it a shot. I think any film that states its a romantic comedy about abortion that takes place on Valentine’s Day is worthy of a look. I am glad I took the chance because it definitely was a lot a fun even if it isn’t a film that everyone will be able to appreciate.

First and foremost, I really appreciated the fact that this is a romantic comedy where the lead female isn’t a total ditz. Jenny Slate portrays Donna in a very realistic light that we don’t see on the big screen to often. The character Donna reminds me of my friend Matt, whose charm relies on saying things that are vastly inappropriate. Donna is a stand-up comedian and her routine usually entails bitching about the world and herself. She is constantly joking around yet deep down there is more going on. It is really nice to see a female that isn’t belittled to do raunchy comedy that involves showing their tits or shitting in sinks.

As for the story it’s predictable, but fun. Within the first 30 minutes, you know where the film is going, however, it does take a few turns that aren’t what I expected. The story is an interesting mix of what I think a guy would want from a romantic comedy as well as certain things that a female is looking for in their love story. A lot of the film though is about self discovery as well as showcasing what it is like to be a stand-up comedian in NYC. There are layers to the story here which is nice to see and adds depth to the cliches that every so often occur during the film’s run time.

In terms of the humor and jokes within the film, I have to point out that there are jokes coming at you almost constantly. While not all of them hit, the ones that do are typically very funny. This brings me to the actual type of comedy in this film. The comedy in Obvious Child is for those who like sarcastic and cynical humor. This may scare some away, but for me it is what made me like the film. It was nice seeing a film that relied more on clever dialogue and the actual performances rather than cheap gross out gags that we see far too often in comedies nowadays.

All in all, I think Obvious Child is a solid romantic comedy that takes chances.  While this isn’t a comedy for everyone, those who have grown tired of the same old comedy with the same old characters will more than likely appreciate this. I also think that if you are a stand-up comic or are fan of stand up comedy, this film is a must see. Based on my knowledge of stand up comedians, Obvious Child accurately portrays the life that comics live. Robespierre should be proud that she was able to take her short film and turn it into a feature length film that is comedic and heartfelt. I definitely recommend it and look forward to see what Jenny Slate and Robespierre work on in the near future.

MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Obvious Child is a 7 out of 10.

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