June 27, 2014 at 8:10 am

Tom Long

Review: Daring 'Obvious Child' finds humor in unfortunate circumstance

Jenny Slate plays a woman dealing with a one-night-stand pregnancy, and Jake Lacy portrays the potential father in 'Obivious Child.' (Rock Nest Entertainment)

There is nothing all that obvious about “Obvious Child.”

First off, it’s a romantic comedy built around an abortion. You don’t see many — any? — of those. It revolves around an actress previously seen only fleetingly. And it never stops to have a grand tragic talk about the aforementioned hot button topic. There are no expected cries of guilt or shame, no lectures or arguments or lessons.

Instead, there are laughs. Lots of them. Which again, is not the obvious thing you expect to find in a film about abortion.

But then “Obvious Child” isn’t really about abortion. It’s about Donna Stern (Jenny Slate), a struggling New York standup comic with a tendency to overshare on stage. Early on in the film, she learns that the bookstore where she works during the day is closing. Then her boyfriend dumps her for being too explicit with audiences about their relationship.

So Donna does what any insecure comic would do — she gets drunk and performs a terribly embarrassing set. Afterward she meets a personable young guy named Max (Jake Lacy) and they have a wild time together.

Unfortunately, they forget to use a condom.

And, a few weeks later, Donna realizes she’s pregnant. At which point she immediately decides to have an abortion. No gnashing of teeth, it’s just the logical thing to do.

While she’s waiting the required time, Max attempts to woo Donna, unaware of the awkward reality of their situation. In many ways, the movie is the story of the oversharing-in-public Donna learning to share in the real world, as well.

Slate is adept with biting remarks and self-deprecation, and she balances Donna somewhere between flightiness and innocence. Director and co-writer Gillian Robespierre apparently shares Slate’s over-enthusiasm for excrement jokes — dog poop has limited humorous value — but generally guides her story well, using a common fact of life for many as a pivot point in one woman’s life.

There is tenderness here, but no hysteria, observation without condemnation. The issue is not the point. The point is, life goes on despite the issue.

'Obvious Child'

GRADE: B

Rated R for language and sexual content

Running time: 84 minutes

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