Obvious Child

Even if you aren’t familiar with comedienne Jenny Slate, I think Obvious Child will win you over. Slate has built a considerable following during the past few years, on television (Saturday Night Live, Parks and Recreation, House of Lies, Bob’s Burgers) and online (Marcel the Shell with Shoes On). This feature gives her a chance to build a rounded and likable character, and the film’s success rests on her shoulders.

Expanding on their 2009 short subject of the same name, she and writer-director Gillian Robespierre give us a small-scale but winning comedy about a neurotic Brooklyn stand-up comic who finds herself pregnant after a one-night stand with a nice guy (Jake Lacy) she’s only just met.

With amusing vignettes from a talented cast of costars, including Gaby Hoffman, Gabe Liedman, David Cross, Richard Kind, Polly Draper, and Paul Briganti, Obvious Child doesn’t bite off more than it can chew and grounds its comedy in real-life situations that are credible and well-observed. Slate’s character is insecure and self-deprecating, but we can see that she has talent and a point of view. It’s not hard to understand why audiences at her home-base comedy club respond to her.

Obvious Child was warmly received at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and deserves to find a wider audience with its theatrical release today.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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May 2024