indie films

Worth Your Valuable Time: Obvious Child


When we talk about movies that come out in the summer, we are usually talking about HUGE movies; blockbusters, with special effects out the yang, fast food tie-ins, and, more often than not, a screenplay that is several shades stupider than it really needs to be. And I’m FINE with that. I like those kinds of movies. For example, Transformers 4: Age of Extinction opened this weekend. I will probably see Transformers 4: Age of Extinction because I am a big fan of watching robots fight each other, and when said robots TURN INTO DINOSAURS FOR SOME REASON… well shit, I’m only human.

But we’re not here to talk about aggressively loud and dumb blockbusters today (though again, those kind of movies are OKAY; I am no advocate for change). We are here to talk about the OTHER kind of movie that comes out in the summer… the counter-programming to the fighting robots, fighting superheros, and fighting 50’s doo-wop groups that exists because occasionally you want to be entertained by something that wasn’t created solely as a means to sell action figures.  Specifically, we are here to talk about Obvious Child, a movie that is the exact opposite of Transformers 4 in every conceivable way. It is showing, hopefully, at an art-house cinema somewhere near you, and you really need to go throw your money at it. And make your friends throw their money at it too. MAKE IT RAIN on Obvious Child. Because Obvious Child isn’t just a great movie (though it IS that, big time). It is the very essence of independent cinema.

These are the three things that you need to know about Obvious Child:

Obvious Child is about abortion, but it isn’t an ABORTION MOVIE -Plainly put, this is a movie about a woman who… after getting pregnant from a drunken, one-night stand… decides to have an abortion, and is okay with that decision. The decision itself is at no point in question during the course of the movie, and… though it is what drives the engine of the plot… the act of this woman getting an abortion is kind of beside the point. Now… I will concede that not everyone will be entirely comfortable with that idea. As far as hot-button issues go, abortion is one that, when pushed, can launch nuclear bombs. There are going to be those that will not care for seeing such a weighty, divisive topic handled… not lightly, per se… but with heaping handfuls of comedy and good-nature. “It’s about abortion!  There should be weeping! Wailing! Gnashing of teething, and maybe a little rending of garments for good measure!” If that is what you’re looking for, then Obvious Child is maybe not the movie for you. Although, I think you should watch it anyway… different points of view are a good thing. An enriching thing, even. So just be cool… just everybody be cool.

Obvious Child is devastatingly funny – I am about to make a big, bold statement, but… hell, this is my website, and if you can’t be bold in your own house, why even bother HAVING a house. You might as well live in a puddle. Anyway, here goes: Obvious Child is the funniest movie of the year. Period. I just don’t see anything out there that’s going to beat it. Now, granted, I haven’t seen EVERY comedy that’s been released since January, nor will I see every comedy that gets released before the end of December. But… call it a gut feeling, or a hunch, or, screw it, call it a ROCK-HARD FACT. You are not going to find a funnier movie than Obvious Child in 2014. And now that I have made this big, bold statement… because I am a inherently a worrier at heart… I feel like I am dangerously close to overselling Obvious Child, which would be doing the film a major disservice. But whatever; you need to learn to manage your own expectations, anyway. Consider this an object lesson in doing that. Because I really believe in that big, bold statement… Obvious Child is simply hysterical. It is funny in a vital, honest way that I haven’t seen on the big screen in a long, long time.

Obvious Child SHOULD make Jenny Slate a very big star – Jenny Slate is a comedian who mostly does stand-up, but who also has a decent side career going appearing in small roles on popular TV shows. Bob’s Burgers, Parks & RecThe Kroll Show… she’s been around, but never the main event. Obvious Child is going to change that. Or at least it SHOULD. Sometimes the world just doesn’t recognize a talented entity, because the world isn’t a fair and just place. And it would be PARTICULARLY unfair in this case, because the performance that Jenny Slate gives in Obvious Child is as textbook a definition of the term “career-maker” as there has ever been. Slate is electric in Obvious Child. Hers is a performance that is completely, refreshingly free of actor-ish pretense, and one that crackles with energy and life. Watching Slate in Obvious Child makes you want to watch her in everything else, forever. If the world proves itself once again to be that unfair, unjust place, and she never really makes an impact on the larger world of cinema… it will be a fucking shame wrapped in a miserable bummer shrouded in lameness. And it will also be the world of cinema’s loss.

Now, to wrap this thing up, I feel like I need to justify something I said earlier, that Obvious Child is the essence of  independent cinema. When I wrote that, I hadn’t really thought out exactly what I meant by it. It sure SOUNDED good… real film critic-y… so I patted myself on the back for being quite the insightful lil’ wordsmith, and then I moved on. But, pulled directly from my butt or not, the statement isn’t without truth. “Independent cinema” is a catch-all phrase that generally means, “movies with small budgets that aren’t about fighting robots.” But what the phrase REALLY means is, “movies that are small, but powerful, and mostly about humans that could be real, but it just so happens that they aren’t.” That is Obvious Child, to the letter. It isn’t a huge, epic film… it makes you feel real feelings (joy, heartache, delight… all the good ones)… and everyone in it SEEMS like they exist in the real world, even if they actually don’t. Obvious Child IS independent cinema, and all that it strives to be, boiled down into a tight, 90 minute package.

So, again… I’m not saying you should skip the Summer Blockbusters. I would never try to take dino-bots away from you (or from me, for that matter). I’m just saying that you should ALSO make a little room in your schedule to take in a screening of Obvious Child. It is most definitely worth your valuable time.