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Thursday, April 19 News

Granger on Movies: 'Obvious Child'

Following is Westport News film critic Susan Granger's review of the new movie, "Obvious Child:"

Igniting immediate controversy when it made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, Gillian Robespierre's radical, romantic dramedy revolves around a bawdy stand-up comedienne who falls in love while getting an abortion.

As the story begins, 28-year-old self-absorbed, money-strapped Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) has been unceremoniously dumped by her surly boyfriend (Paul Briganti). Her angry resentment spews out into her raunchily raw nightclub act at a dingy, Brooklyn dive bar. Then she meets Max (Jake Lacy), a preppie, straight-arrow, corporate WASP from Vermont who is obviously dazzled by her brazen, if overly scatological honesty.

They impulsively hook up that night and her unprotected, rebound sex leads to an unexpected pregnancy. Even immature Donna realizes that having a baby at this point in her life would be disastrous -- although she, not the fetus, is the obvious child, taking its name from a Paul Simon song.

Describing Max as "so Christian he's like a Christmas tree," desperate Donna seeks support and solace with her best friend, Nellie (Gaby Hoffman), and her divorced parents (Richard Kind, Polly Draper).

But she can't seem to find the words to tell earnest, kind-hearted Max of her predicament during the two-week Planned Parenthood waiting time before she can have an abortion, while he, in turn, is puzzled by her awkward, erratic behavior.

Expanded from Anna Bean and Karen Maine's popular 2009 Internet short of the same name by first-time writer/director Robespierre, it's unabashedly authentic -- from start to finish -- adroitly avoiding many solemn/sentimental pitfalls.

Best known for her appearances on TV's "Saturday Night Live" and "Parks and Recreation," outspoken yet vulnerable Slate is funky, funny and totally convincing, as is Lacy from TV's "The Office," although his role is seriously underwritten.

David Cross does a cameo as Donna's bookstore boss, while Gabe Liedman, who is Slate's real-life gay best friend and stand-up comedy partner ("Gabe & Jenny"), plays the same role on screen.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Obvious Child" is an edgy, female-centric 6. For a sophisticated audience, it's refreshingly revealing.