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Wednesday, 09 July 2014 13:14

‘Obvious Child’ plays it honest — and funny + Video

‘Obvious Child’ plays it honest — and funny www.sundance.org
Written by Martha K. Baker
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Not since 1972 has abortion been treated with so much compassion, humor, honesty and reality. November 1972 was when the title character on TV’s “Maude” chose to end her pregnancy via abortion, the same choice made by Donna Stern in Jenny Slate’s “Obvious Child.”

Donna Stern, like Amy Schumer, is a comedian. She is deliciously vulgar, referring to her underpants, her bowel movements, and her bladder, among other terribly intimate details. She is an honest adult — sexual and female. Donna’s life seems to be heading down the old commode. Her boyfriend admits that he has been sleeping with Donna’s friend, and when Donna spies on the couple, she finds that they have — a dog! Then her boss must tell her that he has lost the lease on his used bookstore and has to shut it down in six weeks. Then downcast Donna, who has made jokes about her very Jewish looks, gets roaring drunk and has intimate relations with Max, a man who looks so Christian that he could be a Christmas tree. And then she feels the symptoms of being a little bit pregnant.

Thank goodness, the woman has family and friends. She has her father, played by sweet Richard Kind, and she has her business prof. mother, played so credibly by Polly Draper. She has friends: her gay friend, another sharp comic played by Gabe Liedman, and her woman friend, played perfectly by Gaby Hoffman, right down to the embraces and support and encouragement that a friend brings. Her new friend Max is played so convincingly by Jake Lacy.

Jenny Slate plays Donna as if she’s an alter ego. Slate offers a wide range of faces, from crying to mocking, and she gives Donna a realness that nearly transcends fiction.

But the best thing about the cast is that each member can deliver the lines written by Gillian Robespierre, based on a story written by Karen Maine and Elisabeth Holm, and first made into a short film by Maine, Robespierre, and Anna Bean. These women get it. They get friendship. They get vulgarity and physical intimacy. They get funny. When Donna’s proper mother seems to shimmer into the room like Jeeves, her daughter calls her an “Eileen Fisher ninja.” When Donna’s friend betrays her, Donna bemoans that the friend also carried Donna’s “ideal weight.” When Max tries on a hideous pair of orange clogs, Donna compares them to angel skin.

Lines like these, actors like these, a situation comedy like this make for a very good film about love and life with laughter. 

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