By Darin Skaggs
For what Gillian Robespierre’s Obvious Child is trying to do, it might do it perfectly. It is all about a stand-up comedian, Donna Stern (Jenny Slate), who struggles with life after her boyfriend breaks up with her and the bookstore she works at starts the process of going out of business. Her sarcastic attitude mixed with her rotten life makes for an enjoyable dramatic comedy. With this tone set for the film, Robespierre’s bigger point can come through and it makes it easier to swallow. Donna, with all her problems, goes out to drink and runs into a good looking guy. After flirting a while they spend the night together. Donna wakes up and runs off to go deal with her life. A few weeks pass and Donna finds out she is pregnant. Then the film goes into controversial territory because Donna decides to get an abortion.
Robespierre picked the perfect tone to talk about this controversial topic. She uses humor and real life problems to almost soften the blow for its skeptical viewers. Donna treats this situation as equal to the rest of the problems going on in her life. Her sarcastic remarks make it seem like she doesn’t care, but because of the writing and wonderful performance by Slate you can see that these problems bother her. Robespierre may use a comedy to discuss her position on the subject, but she takes it completely seriously. No matter your view on the issue, you will feel for Donna, not pity, but sympathy.
The film is a comedy but no one is going to fall on the floor because a banana peel got in their way. It is more a real life comedy; it feels like all of these interactions could happen in our world. The film is so perfectly grounded in our reality it just sheds more light on the issue. The acting is some of the best of the year, Slate giving such a realistic performance and also the father of the child, Max, who is played by Jake Lacy does a great job as well. The film also has so many great supporting characters. Gaby Hoffman, Richard Kind and Polly Draper are all great as friends and family to Donna.
The film is sure to be controversial because of the subject. That doesn’t stop it from being an enjoyable, delightful comedy. It is the perfect mix of hilarious comedy and hard hitting real life.