You might know Jenny Slate for her short-lived Saturday Night Live career, or perhaps as the voice of a tiny mollusk named Marcel in the viral YouTube video, “Marcel the Shell with Shoes on,” though it is her leading role in Gillian Robespierre’s “Obvious Child” that has catapulted Slate into the limelight once again.
As a project that started out as a short in 2009 and transformed into a feature length film just this year, “Obvious Child” has been the subject of a lot of ignited conversations since it’s debut at the Sundance Film Festival back in January – the reason being that it tackles the very real and very common issue of abortion in a way that’s never been seen in Hollywood movies before.
Robespierre’s masterfully crafted story follows Slate as Donna Stern, the foul-mouthed standup comedian who finds herself in the midst of a rocky transition to adulthood.
After losing her job and splitting with her boyfriend, Donna has a one-night-stand with the character Max (played by Jake Lacy from “The Office”), and is forced to deal with the consequence of an unplanned pregnancy.
Throughout the film, we see Donna transform and gain confidence with her decisions, ultimately maturing from an “obvious child” to a full-fledged adult. In many popular films like “Juno” and “Knocked Up,” the subject of abortion is seen as a taboo, or even a “scary” possibility for their female protagonists.
However, “Obvious Child” shows the other side of the coin. Its portrayal of abortion is honest and unapologetic, without pushing any kind of agenda.
Both Robespierre and Slate are newcomers to the feature length movie game, though it obviously doesn’t show.
Everything about this movie feels real, from the characters down to the dialogue – even most of the standup was written by Slate herself (reminiscent of Louis CK in “Louie”).
While the touchy subject matter of “Obvious Child” may not be for everyone, it is overall a very unique film. It handles abortion in a very dignified way, while managing to remain tremendously funny and, at times, emotional.
“Obvious Child” is a definite must-see for this summer, having come out on June 6, and it just goes to show that female leads should never be overlooked when it comes to comedies.