“Take Back The Rom-Com" - OBVIOUS CHILD

Friday, June 20, 2014

T&T Note: I did screen Obvious Child and thought, it's hard not to like a movie that features a lovable screw-up, that's unabashedly human and absurdly honest. But I also had so many posts to write this week that I was relieved when a fellow blogger asked if she could guest post and write a review on this movie - Le Anne Lindsay, Editor

 Obvious Child Boards The Female-Centric Comedy Train

By Guest Blogger - Elizabeth Eckhart

Obvious Child is the most recent film to jump on board the female-centric comedy train - and we’re more than glad it did. The film, which is the most recent addition to A24’s indie flick list, centers on Donna Stern, played by Jenny Slate, who both in the film and in reality is a 20 something budding stand up comic. Her comedy, both in “life” and during her “performances” within the film, is harsh, sexual, and downright hilarious. It’s rare to see a female lead crack the jokes; more often than not, that role is left to the Best Friend, or Witty Assistant – especially in rom-coms.

Obvious Child, however, is unique in its effort to be a rom-com that is anything but an ordinary romantic comedy. In fact, the film’s slogan on previews was “Take back the rom-com!” - which is why Donna Stern not only cracks jokes about her sex life on stage (which leads the then-boyfriend involved in the aforementioned sex, to dump her) she also discusses her underwear, bodily functions and other similar topics usually deemed “unladylike”. Male comedians have used personal humiliation and self-deprecation for years, but it has taken comedians such as Joan Rivers, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, Chelsea Lately, and more to clear the path for the fictional Donna Stern and real life Jenny Slate, who reveals more of herself onstage than perhaps any female comic before her.

 Jenny Slate’s personality can be credited with carrying much of the story. She’s the type of woman who is both witty and at times outright crass. Her inability to hold back her tongue is both a blessing and a curse, as well as a trait many of us can relate to. What Jenny thinks, Jenny says, and although her weaker aspects – her self-pitying attitude, for one – can be grating, in the end they result in one of the more realistic, believable roles seen on film (similar, in a way, to Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, with Cate Blanchett’s gin guzzling, pill-popping, ex-rich lady role somehow winning the heart of the audience).

The story kicks off with Donna’s boyfriend ending the relationship. In order to cope, Donna goes out, gets overly intoxicated, has unprotected sex with a man she meets that evening, Max, played by Jake Lacy (and referred to after as "Pee-Farter" due to an incident involving much a much needed bathroom stop in an alley on the way home). A few weeks later, Donna discovers she’s pregnant. For obvious reasons, Donna is in no position to take care of a child. She’s a child herself, still financially dependent on her parents, and more often than not babied by her father. So far, this film may sound eerily reminiscent of Knocked Up, albeit with the roles reversed.

In @ObviousChildMov, Donna is the childish, barely surviving mess, while Max is the straight-arrow business student. Where the film veers is Donna’s decision to not just consider an abortion, as most rom-coms flirting with the topic do (Juno is one), but to follow through with one. The rest of the film consists of Donna’s efforts to inform Max of the pregnancy, their following arguments and flirtations, and discovery that they might mean more to each other than a one night stand. Amazingly, likely due to Gillian Robespierre’s talent as a writer and director, #ObviousChild is still a heartwarming, successful romantic comedy that doesn’t weigh too heavily on the subject of abortion. That’s not to say they ignore the emotional ramifications of having an abortion, but rather Robespierre ensures the film is still primarily about the woman, her life, and her relationships, instead of solely about her decision as to how to handle her pregnancy. That topic aside, the film (which opened in Philly today 6/20, as well as on demand through DirecTV with fellow A24 films) should be praised for furthering the trend of female-led comedies.

Since the sleeper hit Bridesmaids made it clear that women (and men) we’re ecstatic about films starring realistic, funny women, we’ve seen a series of great films and shows, such as Pitch Perfect, Girls, The Mindy Project and even the recent The Other Woman, Obvious Child can be considered the most recent addition to this fantastic list!

Elizabeth Eckhart is an entertainment and film writer born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She loves comedies, as well as period dramas and epics! She can be followed on Twitter at @elizeckhart

T &T's LAMB Score : 3 outta 5

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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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