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Plot Details: This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Have Cunt, Will Unravel.

Obvious Child

Plot Overview

“Obvious Child” being < 1½ hr. long it can't cover the whole abortion topic, so despite its billing don't expect too much. It touches on it, for sure, but the movie consumer will have to educate him­self for the full picture. This symbol-rich flick is cited between two songs: Paul Simon's heavily percussive Obvious Child—or a song that sounds like it; I can't tell from the instru­mental—about Sonny having a child, and a traditional folk tune strummed on a plaintive guitar, about the differences between Single Girl, Married Girl. To twenty-eight-year-old independent Jewess Donna Stern (Jenny Slate), making a baby was the fun part, but marrying its father would be a tough pill to swallow.

In the old days when a single girl got knocked up, the guy who made her pregnant was supposed to marry her. Of course, those days are “Gone With the Wind”—referenced in the story—and what's left does include the marriage option as well as—in alpha­betical order—abortion, adoption, and single mother­hood. The guy who got her pregnant Max (Jake Lacy) is an upstanding Christian who seems to have got carried away that one night, but he seems of a ready mind for marriage. Donna is not, and her lapse had more to do with condom mechanics. She's more prepared to go the abortion route, her friends and family having already set that example. Her mom Nancy Stern (Polly Draper) speaks well of Max but doesn't think he's her type. Holly­wood in this case doesn't weigh in on the pro-life vs. pro-choice debate but lets the characters work out their own (surprising) resolution.


“Obvious Child” is a philosopher's delight. Ref. William Safire (132):

Thomas Hobson (1544–1631) ran a rent-a-hackney-horse agency in Cambridge, England. “When a man came for a horse,” wrote Sir Richard Steele in the Spectator, No. 509 (1712), “he was led into the stable, where there was a great a choice, but he obliged him to take the horse which stood next to the stable door; so that every customer was alike well served according to his chance, and every horse ridden with the same justice. From whence it became a proverb, when what ought to be your election was forced upon you, to say, Hobson's choice.”

gold Prius“Obvious Child” plays up the Hobson's choice theme in at least three places. When Donna's boss returns from a business trip to L.A., he laments that he “had to drive a gold Prius” when there were so many other colors he would have preferred—they list them—but gold was all that was available.

Donna's roommate Nellie (Gaby Hoffmann) castigates her for not using a condom, saying, “You played Russian roulette with your vagina.” Max's approach to court­ship being to get drunk, go home with the floozy he picked up, and let his penis do the thinking, was a Russian roulette style selective screening where in the olden days if she got knocked up, he'd have been obligated to marry her right out of the box, as it were. But, “A guy doesn't want a drunk, pregnant girl in a box.” Donna's mom feels she “could be more selective about … your next beau.” Max would “like to take you out or some­thing on a proper date,” which is how choices get whittled down. Recreational sex coupled with an old style morality would likely result in a Hobson's choice of a mate.

When Donna's boss spills his drink on his shirt, Donna opens her purse and says, “I have stain stick.” He replies, “That's all chemicals. This is wine; I've got to soak it,” and he puts on a ridiculous looking shirt being the only clean one available. The message, if there is one, is that a quick fix of an abortion might not be the best option. It takes longer to carry and bear a child, and a pregnant woman for a time might think her body looks ridiculous, but she is not going to carry the stain of sorrow and regret the rest of her life. Nellie, in fact, admits that some­times she thinks with sadness on the abortion she's had. The nurse at the clinic advises Donna, “It's important that you put a lot of thought into this and it's what you want to do.”

Max is the Christian and we may assume he reads his Bible some. The closest passage that comes any­where near abortion is Exodus 21:22 in which a woman loses her unborn child during an alter­cation, and her husband with the judges determine any penalty. Nellie cynically declaims about, “a patri­archal society in which a bunch of weird old white men legis­late your cunt.” As a practical matter, in America it's a bunch of Supreme Court Judges relying on our founding fathers, who set the bounds of abortions. Roe v. Wade, a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion was based on a woman's right to privacy, but “The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy. In a line of decisions, the Court has recognized that a right of personal privacy … does exist under the Constitution” (Roe v. Wade 230), found in its “penumbra” (225–6). Neither does “The Constitution … define ‘person’ in so many words. But in nearly all [references to ‘person’ in the Constitution], the use of the word is such that it has application only post­natally” (ibid). But what about in the Constitution's penumbra? In the debate about an amendment proposed by Benjamin Franklin about remuneration for Congress­men, he wrote: “There is a natural inclin­ation in man­kind to a kingly govern­ment. … If we do make our posts of honor places of profit, I fear that … it will only nourish the fetus of a king” (68–71). He's not "honoring" a non-person here.

From a philosophical perspective it's impossible to prove the negative, that person as used in the U.S. Constitution could NOT be applied prenatally, and in fact it was applied so in the writings of Benjamin Franklin pertaining to remuneration of persons of the House of Representatives, found now in Article I, Section 6.

The Judges declined to settle on when person­hood begins since philosophers and theologians are not in agreement. This movie sure doesn't tackle that issue. “Knocked Up” made us look upon a developing fetus as a human, and this movie sets the woman's abortion date, with significance, on Valentine's Day, being the earliest she could have it, so as a practical matter, if you want to draw some meaning from it, an abortion produces an innocent martyr, St. Valentine him­self being one.

President Barack Obama uttered a famous line that it's beyond his pay grade to determine when human life begins, but he believes abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. “Obvious Child” pictures a relatively safe abortion environment, legal now compared to the 1960's when Donna's mom had one. As for rare, they quoted a statistic that one in three women would have one in her life­time. That doesn't seem rare to me. Roe v. Wade lists many reasons for having one due to career or college plans, etc. Donna's mother actually composes a spread sheet of life paths for Donna that don't include having a baby right away. If abortions are safe and legal, I'm afraid being rare might rely on a set of priorities and values in women, more along the lines of Titus 2:4-5, just the opposite of Donna in her career of stand-up comic.

Production Values

“Obvious Child” (2014) was directed by Gillian Robespierre, its story having been written by Karen Maine and Elisabeth Holm, based on the 2009 short film “Obvious Child” by Anna Bean, Karen Maine, and Gillian Robespierre. It stars Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy, Gaby Hoffmann, Gabe Liedman, David Cross, Richard Kind, and Polly Draper. This was well acted and well put together, symbol-rich which obviated any need to explain the issues, and mercifully short. The comedy gigs were raunchy, and not even the club audiences laughed at some of the pathetic jokes, how­ever that was part of the plot. The little bit of music went a long way to keeping it lively and interesting. The main draw­back I found was it used too many closeups for actresses of the caliber they had.

Review Conclusion w/ Consumer Recommendation

I did a double take upon leaving the theater when after having expected a movie I would absolutely hate, I walked out in a feel-good mood. Max encouraged us to walk a mile in Donna's shoes, to the extent that he even tried wearing them to see what it felt like. In a way I did the same: I'd had some chile with me mates before the show and ended up with the farts. Next stop by bus was the grocery market, and while I couldn't let them out in the bus or the store, I did find some relief walking through the parking lot in between. But a fellow outside buying him­self a drink from a vending machine didn't appreciate it. I wanted him to cut me some slack being in a lot with cars belching their gases any­way. In a society where marriage and family are so denigrated, what could Max expect from a girl in a club where he stopped for a drink? Since he handled the situation better than I think I would have had I been in his fix, I felt good about it. Some movies, say, show animals being hurt, but then there's a disclaimer announcing no animals were harmed in the making of the picture. Since to the best of my knowledge, no babies were aborted in the making of this film, I am going to allow myself the good feeling. I think this one is a winner.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent dance scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Groups. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall product rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Franklin, Benjamin. The Writings of Benjamin Franklin. Edited by Albert Henry Smyth. 10 vols. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1905–7, pp. 592–93, 595, as quoted in W. Cleon Skousen, The 5000 Year Leap: A Miracle That Changed the World. USA: National Center for Constitutional Studies, 2009. Print.

Roe v. Wade. referenced in Wallace Mendelson, The American Constitution and the Judicial Process. Homewood, IL: The Dorsey Press, 1980. Print.

Safire, William. On Language. New York: TIMES BOOKS. Copyright © 1980 by William Safire. Used by permission. Print.