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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Obvious Child

October 3rd, 2014

Obvious Child - Buy from Amazon: DVD and Blu-ray

Obvious Child opened in limited release in June taking top spot on the per theater chart over its opening weekend. It wasn't able to expand truly wide, but it did finish with more than $3 million, which is still excellent for a limited release. Is it as good as its opening was? Or is there a reason it wasn't able to expand truly wide?

The Movie

The film stars Jenny Slate as Donna, who is a stand-up comic. We are introduced to her doing a set, which is about dirty underwear and later on her sex life. After the set, she talks to her boyfriend, Ryan, who admits to having an affair and dumps her. She goes home and gets sloppy drunk in response and drunk dials him a few times. Her friend, Nellie, comes to comfort her. Soon after, Donna is fired from her day job, not because she is a bad worker, but because the book store she works at is closing. She tries to get some emotional support from her parents, first with her father and then with her mother. (They are divorced.) It goes better with her father than with her mother. He's an entertainer as well; in fact, it was his divorce that served as the inspiration for his and his brother's first TV show. Her mother, on the other hand, is worried that she's not growing up soon enough.

When we next see her on stage, she doesn't have a good set. She's drunk and still hasn't gotten over being dumped. She decides to get drunk with Joey, a fellow comedian, but while paying for drinks, she bumps into Max. They have a conversation. I wouldn't exactly call it flirting, because Donna tells a story about seeing a dead horse on a school field trip. Max still joins Donna and Joey for drinks and when Max goes to pay for drinks, Joey encourages Donna to hook up with Max. At first, Donna thinks she's too Jewish and he's too Christian for them to be an item, but she goes for it. The next morning, on the other hand, she seems to regret that decision and sneaks out.

Flash forward a few weeks later and we see Donna and Nellie are trying on outfits to go to work in when Donna mentions her boobs are sour. Nellie offhandedly says, "Maybe you're pregnant." and suddenly Donna realizes she's pregnant. She remembers using a condom when she was with Max, but they were drunk at the time and she remembers Max using his teeth to open the package.

Never use your teeth to open a condom wrapper, as you can easily damage it that way.

He also used it as a finger puppet and I shouldn't have to tell you not to do that.

The tests come back positive and Donna is pregnant. She goes to Planned Parenthood to get an abortion, but she's only three weeks pregnant, so she can't get one yet. She has to wait two more weeks, meaning she has to get an abortion on the 14th of February... Valentine's Day. She goes ahead with the scheduling, but there's one complication. Max, her one-night stand, comes back and wants to have a relationship.

Obvious Child is Jenny Slate's movie. It lives or dies on her performance. And thankfully, she gives an amazing performance. She is given an equally amazing script by co-writer / director Gillian Robespierre, who is remaking her short film into this feature-length piece. Donna is written as a very real character, one with obvious flaws, but one that is also relatable. Her crude stand-up routine would be cliché if it were gender-swapped, but is refreshing here, as we rarely see female topics like this addressed anywhere. For that matter, how the film deals with abortion is also very refreshing. While it originally aired before I was born, I remember a show called Maude, which starred Bea Arthur. In one of the early episodes, Maude gets pregnant at age 47. In the end, she decides to have an abortion. This episode aired two months before Roe vs. Wade. However, since then the topic has become toxic in movie and TV shows. Obvious Child is one of the very few shows to treat abortion as an option, rather than a taboo to avoid.

Another asset the film has is the supporting cast. Gaby Hoffmann was a successful child star who left acting, more or less, for nearly a decade, but came back about five years ago and has remained busy, which is good news for us, as she's fantastic in this movie. Likewise, Jake Lacy, who plays Max, is great, as are her parents, Joey, everyone. David Cross even has short guest spot as a fellow stand-up comic.

The Extras

Extras begin with an audio commentary track with Jenny Slate, Gillian Robespierre, and Elisabeth Holm. Up next is a 25-minute making of featurette and 24 minutes of extended scenes. Finally, there's the original 21-minute short the film is based on. That's a lot of extras for a limited release.

I don't have the Blu-ray to compare, but it costs $21, which is $4 or 24% more than the DVD. That's a good deal for this type of release.

The Verdict

Obvious Child earned some buzz as "the abortion comedy", which is unfortunate. It deals with the subject in a much more mature way than most other films or TV shows, but it is more than that. The performance by Jenny Slate is enough by itself to make the movie worth checking out, while there are enough extras on the DVD and Blu-ray to make it worth picking up.

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Filed under: Video Review, Obvious Child, David Cross, Polly Draper, Gaby Hoffmann, Richard Kind, Jenny Slate, Elisabeth Holm, Gillian Robespierre, Jake Lacy, Gabe Liedman, Paul Briganti, Bea Arthur