DVD Review - Obvious Child

The 2009 short film Obvious Child was directed and co-written by Gillian Robespierre. It stars Jenny Slate as a young woman in Brooklyn who gets dumped by her boyfriend. She then has a one-night-stand with a random guy whom she expects never to see again. She realizes a few weeks later that she's pregnant by that random guy. She decides to get an abortion and on the day she goes to get the abortion, she runs into that random guy and has to tell him what's happening.

That 20-minute, short film was expanded into this feature. Directed and written by Gillian Robespierre and again starring Jenny Slate, it's the same basic story but fleshed out. That short film is a special option on the DVD. Often, short films are better than the features on which they're based. This is not so in this case.

Parallel moments in both are better played in the feature, probably because there's more time to let things breath. It also allows the feature to be funny. It's not just because Jenny Slate plays Donna Stern, a standup comedian who works at a bookstore, which is getting ready to close. There aren't really many gags.

Slate's just awkward way of being, which feels totally genuine and natural, was what sold a lot of it. Her scenes with Jake Lacy who plays Max Brown, her post-breakup one-night-stand, are probably the best. Yet, the film has a great supporting cast. From Richard Kind and Polly Draper who play Donna's parents and Gabe Liedman who plays fellow comedian and Donna's gay best friend Joey are all outstanding in their moments with Slate.

It's also interesting how abortion is not an issue in this movie in terms of whether or not it should be done. There isn't any moralizing about it. The only real question is if she should tell Max, the man who impregnated her, that she's aborting his potential baby and if that's something he even has a right to know.

It's a bit of an interesting debate. It all culminates in a great scene where Donna decides to be shockingly autobiographical in her standup routine. It's incredibly acted by Slate. I only wish Robespierre had given us more. There isn't much of a denouement. The ending leaves little to be desired, but it did feel somewhat abrupt.

Four Stars out of Five.
Rated R for language and sexual content.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 24 mins.


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