“Obvious Child”: Pregnant in its Details

Gillian Robespierre may have been inspired by Louis CK’s stand up comedian’s “life on display” award winning formula in her film Obvious Child which she both directed and co-wrote. The movie stars comedian Jenny Slate (as Donna) and actor Jake Lacy (as Max). Although I enjoyed the flick as a whole, overly antiseptic aspects mixed oddly with quasi corny romance kept me from going full term, so to speak, in my adulation.

In any art form, pushing the envelope is necessary to make an indelible mark. And if anything, this new century will be remembered for the ‘killing sacred cow’ genres; Tarantino, Jack Ass’s Tremaine, Sasha Baron Cohen’s movies just to name a few, not to mention Stone and Parker’s musical The Book of Mormon.

sacred cow

And while I’m very much pro-choice, knowing that quality of life (loved and cared for the premiums) equals the overall peace and joy on earth, AND that I am saddened by the recent Supreme Court decision severing a recent Massachusetts law that banned protesters within 35 feet of abortion clinics, I feel Obvious Child may have taken a too clinical approach for a rom-com.

At times, I felt like I was watching a really, really well done how-to video: here’s how you perform a pregnancy test, here’s how you talk to a doctor, here’s how you tell your mother, here’s how you lay on the table.

The characters were all likeable, though realism was stretched a bit when Jenny’s mother (played by Polly Draper) does an about face from austere critical mom to an understanding touchy feely one.

But let’s be positive. The drunken fun of Donna and Max dancing in varying states of disrobing to Paul Simon’s song “Obvious Child” was suffused with palpable joy. The scene where Donna goes to a fellow comedian’s (played by Dave Cross) loft and is consequently hit on after he changes into a hideous cowpoke patterned tank top is also a stitch.

“Obvious Child” is definitely worth seeing for those moments and because it has done what few, if any, has attempted, to build a story around a sensible choice, that has before this film, been a woman’s shameful secret.

Battle of the Exes P. Smith vs. S. Shepard: “Nobody Gets the Money“

Battle of the Exes

In probably my most oxymoronic relationship of all time (think Dickens “It was the best of times and it was the worst of times”), my then boyfriend would cite an old Superman episode line by a chagrinned Jimmy Olsen, “Aw, nobody got the money,” when neither of us reached the summit (a coitus euphemism).

And now I must say in the tussle between two former exes who both were in movies I saw this weekend, that nobody got the money in film either. The ‘frigid’ films were Patty Smith’s “The Dream of Life” actually from 2008, but re-released to indie theaters, like my Little Theater in Rochester, New York , and in the other corner, Sam Shepard in “Cold in July” starring beside Sam, Don Johnson and Michael C. Hall of Dexter fame.

First, Patty Smith’s “Dream of Life” wins merely because disorganized non-fiction is better than crazy buffoonish fiction. I actually saw this documentary when it first came out, and think more was added to the mayhem since its first incarnation. So, it’s a mess, but a pretty mess, with singing, poetry and a lot about Patty looking at her own mortality due to the death’s surrounding her (spouse and a former lover to name two). But I swear the former doc I saw ended with her and Flea on the beach, where this devolved further into more poetry and grave sites. Let’s just say her railing against George W. didn’t stand up to the test of time. But I really do love Patty Smith and feel guilty criticizing her film, yet less bad that it’s 9 years old and therefore, past the statute of limitation perhaps to be judged.

Second, “Cold in July”, which as the credits rolled looked at my dad (his Father’s Day outing) and said, “there’s a screenwriter who has got some dough to burn, because anyone with half a brain, would have questioned the hell out of the screenplay. Like, why didn’t the police ever care about Sam Shepard’s body being missing after it disappeared of the railroad tracks (the old Snidely Whiplash trick) or why did Michael C. Hall’s character quit caring about the scapegoat he killed? Or why is MC Hall’s town suddenly safe with rotten cops still in charge at the film’s end? And probably the largest question….why did critics give this a fairly high rating (a 92% early at last check on Rotten Tomatoes)?

I know vaguely the last answer because though I try not to read reviews before forming my own original opinion, I did see the critics mooning over Don Johnson’s southern charm of a role. Hopefully Melanie Griffith saw it, too, and the pair can go for marriage number 3, because while he’s certainly a handsome devil and a comic relief, he certainly could not turn the temperature up on this freezer burnt hot dog of a film.

As Jimmy said, “Aw nobody got the money”.