Jake Lacy

Intramural movie

There’s nothing quite like a sports-centric film to get the blood pumping, the heart racing, and the tears flowing – and that’s just what happens when most people watch an Air Bud outing – but it’s hard to deny that most of the emotional responses that sports movies stir up in their audience come from a carefully laid out set of tropes and some standard plot movements. Consider the sports film playbook, stacked with underdogs and wild plans and offbeat coaching and a last-minute save to win the big game. You know it, and you know it well – fortunately, so do Intramural director Andrew Disney and screenwriter Bradley Jackson. The film opens on a rowdy and ragtag group of freshmen, led by best pals Caleb (Jake Lacy) and Grant (Nick Kocher), who are just minutes away from winning the big! intramural! football! championship! game! Of course, no one else is actually watching the game, save for the seemingly self-installed color commentary team of Bill (D.C. Pierson) and Dan (Jay Pharoah), but the dudes seem invested enough in their little game of flag football fun, and why not let them have that joy? And, yes, there is joy – because the good-time Panthers pull out a last-minute win (complete with a crazy play!) against the evil Titans, led by the hilariously nefarious Dick (Beck Bennett). That joy is short-lived.

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Obvious Child trailer

One of the breakout hits from this year’s Sundance Film Festival was a film that has romance, yes, and is definitely a comedy, but perhaps not exactly a typical rom-com. At least, nothing you’ve probably seen starring Kate Hudson and a nondescript white bachelor suitor probably involves a plotline centered upon abortion. As it turns out, Obvious Child maybe just isn’t that obvious of a choice. The film, directed by Gillian Robespierre, focuses on a down on her luck comedian named Donna, played by real life comedian and former Saturday Night Live member Jenny Slate. After a particularly heinous breakup, Donna downspirals, losing her job and sending her already shaking existence as an unambitious twenty-something into overdrive. Even something good, like a silly one night stand with a new guy who seems to share her proclivities for farts and fun, leads to an unexpected and unwanted pregnancy.

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jenny slate obvious child

First of all, let’s not get confused. There are two films at Sundance next month with almost the same name. There’s The Obvious Child, a 12-minute animated short by Stephen Irwin (trailer here). And there’s the feature rom-com Obvious Child by Gillian Robespierre, which is the focus of this week’s column. To clear up more confusion, yes, there was already a film called Obvious Child by Gillian Robespierre. That 23-minute short from 2009 (which was once accessible on Vimeo but is now password protected — boooo!), is the precursor to this feature, which expands upon its story of a young woman who has an abortion and it’s not that big a deal. Like the original version, the new one stars Jenny Slate, the comedienne who infamously said the F-word on SNL on her debut episode. Now she’s maybe better known for her hilariously bonkers role as Mona-Lisa on Parks and Recreation. That’s where I know her from best, anyway (not counting the Marcel the Shell shorts that I always forget are voiced by her). I guess she also stars in the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies. Good for her. So does David Cross, who also co-stars in Obvious Child. Others in the cast include former child star turned Indie Spirit Award nominee Gaby Hoffman, late regular on The Office Jake Lacy (Pete aka “Plop”), Slate’s Bestie x Bestie partner Gabe Liedman and the always lovable character actor Richard Kind.

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