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Obvious Child - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Obvious Child
Directing: B+
Acting: B+
Writing: A-
Cinematography: B
Editing: A-

People with short attention spans should be relieved that Obvious Child is all of 83 minutes long -- the kind of run time usually reserved for terrible spoof movies. I'd say that this might be the best 83-minute movie ever made, but that wouldn't be saying much. It might do better simply to call it funny, tender, and quirky. And for once it's quirky in a good way.

Donna (a fantastic Jenny Slate) is a comedian a bit down on her luck. The trailers to Obvious Child focus on the one night she bombs on stage because she's getting smashed as she laments a recent breakup. But she's actually a pretty funny comedian -- certainly a genuine and sincere stage personality, which is rare enough as it is. In any case, she's usually fun to watch.

But when a boyfriend tries to use Donna's inclusion of him in her act as an excuse, then blurts out that he's been sleeping with another woman, Donna spirals a bit. She engages in what she refers to as "a little light stalking." But then she meets Max (a blandly pleasant Jake Lacy) right after the performance at which she bombs, which he happens to have just missed, they have a one-night stand. They both let loose and by all appearances have a lot of fun. And: a few weeks later, Donna discovers she's pregnant.

Donna really never second guesses her decision to have an abortion, which is kind of a relief. This is far from a "message movie" -- no moralizing here. It's just a modern story of a woman faced with how to deal with very adult issues in a life of delayed adolescence. She struggles not just with telling her parents, but with whether or not to tell Max, who for the most part turns out to be very sweet and supportive. He's almost too good to be true, honestly; the otherwise very incisive script, co-written by director Gillian Robespierre, gives him very few flaws. The one "dick move" (as he puts it) we see him make is to walk out of one of Donna's performances, and that's done to supply a plot point.

But that's just one of very few minor quibbles to be had with this movie, which has greater depth that the simple straightforwardness of its story might suggest. And its brief runtime reveals nothing more than some truly skilled editing, showing us only what we truly need for the story to reach its optimistically open-ended conclusion. Many movies spend at least a few minutes wasting the audience's time, but here, not a minute gets wasted.

And considering Donna is a comedian, it follows that she has a penchant for irreverence -- as do most of her family and friends, and thus does this movie on the whole. In less capable hands, a scene in which a guy farts in a woman's face while pissing on the street would just be going for cheap laughs. Here, it actually serves as character development.

Donna is deeply insecure, but Jenny Slate gives her such a winning personality that you can't help but love her, and you can see why her friends love her too. She's a great person to spend 83 minutes with. It's just the right amount of Donna.

Jenny Slate and Jake Lacy have a little complication between them in Obvious Child.

Overall: B+
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