17 ene. 2015

Obvious Child (5/10): I never connected with Slate's brand of humor

“Creative energy sometimes comes from the lowest point in your life.”

Based on her short film Gillian Robespierre writes and directs her first feature length film about a comedienne who has recently been dumped by her boyfriend. It is a rom-com that has received a lot of praise for the way it tackles the issues of womanhood and abortion. The main character in this film is played by Jenny Slate and she is going through some rough patches in her life. Not only has her boyfriend recently dumped her for her best friend, but she is about to lose her job because the bookstore she works at is closing down, and she also gets pregnant after meeting a nice guy at one of her shows. Her comedic routine isn’t actually working either because it is based on her everyday experiences and lately it seems to be more depressing than funny. Her brand of humor is mostly self-deprecating, but I had a difficult time finding it funny. I’m in the minority here considering most people have found this film funny, but I didn’t find the humor in it. Slate basically plays a woman-child who is struggling to cope with the fact she has to become an adult. The comedy tries to be raw and honest, but I simply didn’t find it interesting or funny. The romance also feels conventional at times. The film doesn’t make a big deal out of abortion and that is why it has received much praise for the way it underplays the controversial issue. The film relies entirely on Jenny Slate’s performance and unfortunately I never found her humor funny so that is the reason why it didn’t work for me. There are way too many fart jokes in this film as well.

Obvious Child is a film that relies entirely on the screenplay and its cast because there is nothing special in the visual department. Unfortunately I found the screenplay and the main character a bit annoying. I already mentioned how the comedic aspect of the film didn’t work for me, but I will give it a little more credit for the romantic side of it. It might be cliched in some parts, but there is chemistry between Slate and Jake Lacy, who plays the sweet and patient guy who she meets during one of her shows. The film works best when the two are together, you get that uncomfortable feeling from both when they first meet or when they want to communicate something to each other. Richard Kind and Polly Draper play Slate’s parents who are separated (and you can see why when you meet both of them separately in the way they treat their daughter because they feel like oil and water). Then you have Gaby Hoffmann playing the best friend role and sharing several scenes with Slate. None of these performances really stood out for me but they weren’t bad either. I just didn’t find Slate’s character all that interesting or funny, and at times she really annoyed me. I am glad that the film is short because those 80 minutes still felt a bit tedious considering I was never able to connect with the characters.


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