Jenny Slate

Obvious Child

Editor’s note: Our review of Obvious Child originally ran during this year’s Sundance Film Festival, but we’re re-running it now as the film opens in limited release. Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) has a problem with sharing – specifically, she shares too much when she’s on stage doing stand-up comedy; her act is peppered with scatological humor, jokes about other bodily fluids, and personal information about her romantic life. It’s not something her boyfriend Ryan (Paul Briganti) likes so much, which is probably why he thinks it’s appropriate to break up with her after one of her sets, at the bar where does her comedy, in the joint’s grubby communal bathroom. While staring at his phone. And confessing that he’s been banging her friend Kate. Perhaps Donna’s actual problem is that she’s been saddled with a heartless douchebag boyfriend for quite some time, but all that sharing can’t be helping so much (or can it?). Slate shines as Donna in Gillian Robespierre’s feature debut (Robespierre is also responsible for the film’s screenplay, which she penned with input from Karen Maine, Elisabeth Holm, and Anna Bean), taking what could be a very expected character (a shiftless Brooklyn hipster) and a very standard plotline (after losing her boyfriend, she also loses her job, has a one night stand with a stranger and gets knocked up) into something witty, funny and real. Robespierre’s Obvious Child smacks with relatability, believability and an honesty that’s rare these days, while also tackling a big social issue (that […]

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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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Looney Tunes

Given the shoddy treatment Jim Henson’s Muppets characters got through much of the ’90s and the ’00s, last year’s refresher of their property, The Muppets, was welcomed as a huge breath of fresh air. Finally somebody with true affection for these beloved characters gave them a big screen vehicle that skillfully treated them with the respect they deserve. Things are arguably looking worse for Warner Bros.’ Looney Tunes franchise than they ever did for the Muppets though. The last time these characters hit the big screen was in 2003’s already-forgotten Looney Tunes: Back in Action, and the last time they felt remotely relevant was when they appeared in Space Jam in 1996. Here is a stable of characters that was beloved for decades, whose earliest animated works are still held up in knowledgeable circles as being enduring pieces of modern art, and we can’t even get them a decent Space Jam sequel? What gives? Hopefully all this is about to change, because the brothers Warner are putting together a new feature for Bugs, Daffy, and crew, and it sounds like they’re taking the The Muppets approach that resulted in that property enjoying newfound relevance. What are the similarities here? Well, according to THR [via Slashfilm], the studio is looking outside the insular animated world and giving the job of putting this film together to people who are known for doing other things, but still have a deep, abiding affection for animated weirdness.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr goes rogue and infiltrates his local IMAX theater. First, he scales the wall of the plus-sized building and slides in undetected through the air vents. He slowly lowers himself into a theater seat to enjoy an early screening of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Unfortunately, he finds himself in the middle of a wild crowd of six-year-old kids for the early screening of the latest Alvin and the Chipmunks movie. To deal with the psychological damage, Kevin then stumbles into the Sherlock Holmes sequel and later finds an extra seat in Young Adult, where he can imagine that his chubby caboose could land a hottie like Charlize Theron.

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There is absolutely no satisfying way to explain and introduce Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked in a classic film review format, because of one major hurdle – it’s a film about singing chipmunks that get shipwrecked (sigh, chipwrecked) on a seemingly unpopulated island. It’s hard to believe this is a real film (it’s nearly impossible to also believe that it’s the third film in a franchise), and it’s even harder to attempt to talk about it in a critical and professional manner. But let’s try. Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked opens with human moron Dave Seville (Jason Lee) and his six-pack of fuzzy (children? paychecks? vermin?) heading off on what is meant to be restful holiday cruise. Dave is understandably exhausted after spending years of his life raising six chipmunks – Alvin, Simon, Theodore, Brittany, Jeanette, and the other one – who are also international signing superstars. The seven of them plan to use the cruise to relax before hitting the International Music Awards (sort of like the MTV Video Music Awards, but somehow even less important), where the boys (Alvin and the Chipmunks, so much for Simon and Theodore’s name recognition) and the girls (The Chipettes, much more equal opportunity) will likely rack up a bevy of awards. Of course, the Chipmunks and the Chipettes ultimately get marooned on a tropical island, thanks to (shockingly!) a move by ol’ troublemaker Alvin, a plan so stupid that even these damn singing chipmunks should have realized the depth of their idiocy […]

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