Synopsis: For aspiring comedian Donna Stern, everyday life as a female twenty-something provides ample material for her incredibly relatable brand of humor. On stage, Donna is unapologetically herself, joking about topics as intimate as her sex life and as crude as her day-old underwear. But when Donna gets dumped, loses her job, and finds herself pregnant just in time for Valentine’s Day, she has to navigate the murky waters of independent adulthood for the first time. As she grapples with an uncertain financial future, an unwanted pregnancy, and a surprising new suitor, Donna begins to discover that the most terrifying thing about adulthood isn’t facing it all on her own. It’s allowing herself to accept the support and love of others. And be truly vulnerable. Never failing to find the comedy and humanity in each awkward situation she encounters, Donna finds out along the way what it means to be as brave in life as she is on stage.
Release Date: June 6, 2014 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Comedy, Drama
For some comedians, “Saturday Night Live” is a great stepping stone to a movie career. Just ask Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, or Kristen Wiig. Even some of the lesser-known cast members, comics like Norm MacDonald and Molly Shannon, have made successful jumps to the big screen. Now, with Obvious Child, it’s Jenny Slate’s turn. Who’s Jenny Slate? Read on.
Obvious Child stars Slate (who, since leaving SNL in 2010, has bounced around on T.V. shows like “Parks and Recreation” and “House of Lies”) as Donna Stern, a stand-up comedienne in Brooklyn who gets dumped by her boyfriend and laid off from her job in the same day. Her bad luck does not end there; after a night of pity-drinking, she has a one-night stand with a guy named Max (Jake Lacy, who played Pete on “The Office”) that leaves her pregnant. She decides to have an abortion, and schedules the next available appointment – on Valentine’s Day. Even though Donna has the support of her roommate, Nellie (Now and Then‘s Gaby Hoffman), and fellow comedian Joey (Gabe Liedman from “Fodder”), she still struggles with the uncertainty of her decision, knowing that it could be the most important one of her life.
To be fair, Obvious Child is not a typical “Saturday Night Live” movie, so lumping it in with films like Wayne’s World or Coneheads wouldn’t be accurate at all. The feature film debut of director Gillian Robespierre, the movie has a very independent vibe to it, rougher around the edges than most big Hollywood comedies. Although flashes of Slate’s SNL characters can be seen in her performance, Obvious Child seems to be more of an extrapolation of her stand-up comedy than an expansion of a television skit. The script was adapted from a short film of the same name by Robespierre along with a pair of first-time writers, Karen Maine and Elisabeth Holm, so it does not feel like a specific vehicle for Jenny Slate. Obvious Child is a very minimalistic, honest, heartfelt comedy that has a lot to say, and it says it with both humor and tact.
Now, just because Obvious Child doesn’t feel like an overt vehicle for Jenny Slate doesn’t mean that it is not her movie. It very much is, and all of the supporting characters are there to do just that: support her. Slate is funny and charming, and plays well off of all of her cast mates, letting them have their time without having any taken away from her. Slate comes off as the girl with whom everyone wants to be friends. She’s a great comic actress and, with a little luck, Obvious Child will help make a bigger star out of her.
Obvious Child is a comedy, but it deals with very serious issues like abortion, unemployment, and addiction. The film walks a very fine line, still managing to treat its subject matter with respect and reverence without sounding preachy or commanding. Obvious Child doesn’t tell the viewer how to think, it just opens the dialogue in an attempt to make people think. Think, and laugh.
The humor in Obvious Child is very low-key and understated. The film is absolutely hilarious, but in a much more subliminal way than most comedies. The movie is full of the type of intelligent humor that may take a second to sink in, but will deliver laughs all the same. The humor is very self-deprecating, much of it coming at the expense of Donna herself, and the film very cleverly acknowledges when it uses a joke that is either bad or cliched. Donna’s stand-up routine spills over into the rest of the film, so Obvious Child tends to be a bit derivative of shows like “Seinfeld,” but that’s not a bad thing; it’s done well, and the laughs are there.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Gillian Robespierre
- Screenwriter(s): Gillian Robespierre
- Cast: Jenny Slate (Donna Stern)Jake Lacy (Max)Gaby Hoffmann (Nellie) Gabe Liedman (Joey)David Cross (Sam)Richard Kind (Jacob Stern)
- Editor(s): Casey Brooks
- Cinematographer: Chris Teague
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Chris Bordeaux
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA