Take a Drink: for every scatalogical joke
Take a Drink: for particularly creative hilarious banter
Take a Drink: for tears
Take a Drink: whenever a character does
Take a Drink: for conversation avoidance
Do a Shot: for bottoming out
By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
One of the most talked about films coming out of Sundance wasn’t Oscar bait or a formally challenging indie flick, but rather a small-scale comedy that looked not unlike pretty much any wide release Seth Rogen or Paul Rudd-starrer, except it was helmed and fronted by a… woman.
Jenny Slate stars as a stand=up comedian who has a hell of a bad week, getting cheated on and dumped by her boyfriend and losing her job, and rebounding with a night of quality drinking and a hookup with an attractive young man (Jake Lacy). Two weeks later, though, and… she’s pregnant.
This is the Jenny Slate Show, and she demonstrates that she’s not the one-note pony you might’ve expected from her supporting roles and guest appearances on shows like Parks and Recreation.
She’s magnetic, likable, self-deprecatory, wholly authentic, and very, very funny in this. A lot of folks are playing up the gross-out, bodily function-heavy aspect of the humor, and while she’s hardly the first girl to make a fart joke, she’s got a talent for gloriously sophomoric humor that’ll hopefully get a lot bigger spotlight alongside the Jonah Hills and Melissa McCarthys of the world.
She wrote the script with debut director Gillian Robespierre, who also displays a steady handle on tone, a few nice visual touches, and a perfect ear for fitting music to a scene. Girls standout Gaby Hoffman and Gabe Liedman shine in support as her buddies, and Lacy (The Office) is charming and has great chemistry with Slate.
Okay, now for the elephant in the room. A lot of folks are billing this as “that abortion comedy”. Yes, she gets an abortion, no she doesn’t exhibit the normal dramatic hand-wringing over that decision, and yes, it is fairly central to the plot. I won’t get into a moral debate about this, but I will say that Obvious Child approaches the decision in a very frank and realistic manner, and Slate shows some dramatic range as she makes it, and decides how or if to reveal it to her family and boyfriend.
Spoilers, I guess, but how Slate ends up doing that is in one of her stand-up acts, and it’s brutal to sit through. Ricky Gervais/Michael Scott-style self-sabotage humor always makes me shift in my seat uncomfortably, but more damning is that this scene is just not funny. Even her earlier on-stage meltdown had more jokes, and the scene comes off as her trying to have her big dramatic speech cake and joke about it, too.
“Cake, you so frosty!”- Okay, it’s harder than it looks.
The humor hits fast and hard, but when it doesn’t, there are more crickets than a Jiminy family reunion. One scene where somebody accidentally lets one rip in another person’s face, complete with cheap sound effect, might sound like a novelty to some folks who think that “Are Women Funny?” is a topic that is in any way debatable, but in the Fromage household, a lazy fart joke is a lazy fart joke.
This must really confuse the “women aren’t funny” crowd, eh?
Obvious Child is a star-making turn for the hilarious Jenny Slate, and a pretty enjoyable if not entirely groundbreaking comedy as a whole.