New Moon Movie Night: On Being an Obvious Child (Not Ready to Have a Child)
Welcome to our moon-synced movie review show hosted by Saira Barbaric and NEVE. This South Seattle creative duo do multidisciplinary work together and individually. For this show, they are thrilled to join their love of astrology, rituals and pop culture.
Stream this month’s podcast on the official New Moon Movie Review podcast website.
The short and sweet Obvious child, directed by Gillian Robespierre and starring Jenny Slate, was released in 2014. Yet it takes its name from the 1990s song by Paul Simon and Olodum (Brazilian black/political movement percussion and performance band, whose name means “God of gods”). The obvious child. “The Obvious Child” was Paul Simon’s reflection on mortality and aging, in which the singer is not only an adult but has a grown-up child. Simon asks, “Why deny the obvious child?” Since the movie Obvious child is about an unplanned pregnancy in the life of a 20-something comedian, you might think the obvious child is the one that could have been. Still, I like to think the obvious child is the one in the heart of Slate’s hilarious Donna. Paul Simon and Olodum’s song also features in the film. Its dappled, speckled, peppery, stacked, joyfully squealing drums accompany the scene in which Donna and her one-night stand Max (Jake Lacy) hook up for the first time and inadvertently become pregnant. It’s a very charming scene, with lots of dancing, jumping and playing. Very few obvious sexy moments, which I found endearing and wholesome. They were really having fun and the movie wanted us to know that. The downside to this scene and song choice is that Max owns both khakis and bongos. You do the math.
Obvious childThe plot of is almost as simple as its premise. Donna is a beautiful, eccentric, Jewish, semi-bratty struggling comedienne with two professional/brilliant parents, so overbearing and hard to please directly, and two helpful, loyal, and always sweetly condescending best friends (one of whom is played by my love, Gaby Hoffman). She performs most nights but at least once a week at a local bar and comedy club in her Brooklyn neighborhood. At some point, she becomes pregnant and decides to have an abortion. These aren’t even spoilers. Half of what happens is what doesn’t happen. Donna apparently does not suffer from the choice to have an abortion, nor from an unwanted/unplanned pregnancy. No one tries to dissuade her from her right to choose. In fact, the thing Donna should be criticized or praised for by an audience, a therapist, or the characters in the story, is her acting. When I first saw him at 24, I was totally into his sense of humor; now, at 32, I still think she’s hilarious, but I also notice how her style matures throughout the arc of the movie. There are times, especially early on, when his navel-gazing or bitter digs taste weird, and I wince at the times I cited them in my early twenties. There’s something for a lot to enjoy about this film, but I’ll admit it didn’t give me the excitement I want now in plots and themes, slow and sparse or thick as that may be.
Obvious child came out smack in the middle of the hilarious woke white feminist and hipster indie satire of the early 2000s and 2010s about struggle during coming of age. There are a lot of seals that I love and a lot of seals that I hate from that era. I like Juno and knocked up, with Elliot Page and Katherine Heigl, respectively. Still, I admit it feels like something from a ghostly omission to an intentional erasure that abortion as a right is barely considered in either film. What I particularly like Obvious childThe hallmark of hipster feminist comedy is that at this point we’ve entered an era where women and women can hope to be as gross as we really are. The show vast city, created by and performed by Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer is a shining example. Body humor that is not fatphobic! Talking about vaginas in a loving and realistic way! Laugh at yourself for being a trash-eating raccoon! The broads don’t personally deal with pregnancy on the show, but they voluntarily support people who have access to abortion at a clinic, protecting them from pro-life protesters there, and they even ask in a manner creative to one of the demonstrators to change tone! It is vital and vital to see people who are not cis men “allowed” to be whole people in the open more often. Now let’s go for the non-colored ones too, y’all!
Obvious child is funny, a bit silly and very sweet, especially if you’re watching with another person (even over text messages – sync it! 321-play!) Because it takes focus and interaction to be appreciated . Obvious child is not the best choice to watch passively. There are a lot of subtleties and slower moments to pay attention to. There’s a great black and white Hollywood scene that’s done in a fun, engaging, and not cheesy way. As someone who is both obviously adult and growing and obviously childish, I appreciated the candor and sweetness of this film, which has held up over the years. It works well with this New Moon in Cancer, the River Moon. Listen to our podcast for more on the moon, plus an in-depth (and definitely rated R for body talk, A+ for hilarity) conversation between Saira and I about our feelings for the film.
NEVE (he/she) is a multi-gender, multi-racial, multi-disabled, multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary terpsichorean artist of stage, street, field, stream and screen. He is a native African living in Duwamish and Coast Salish lands and traveling wherever he has access and an invitation. (S) He is a 2020 Pina Bausch Fellow and a 2022 Arc Artist Fellow. Visit them online at nevebebad.com and beyond.
Since 2015, Saira B (he/she/they/ze) was based in Seattle to create performance art, film, and events that explore mythology, eroticism, AfroPsychedelic dreams, ritual objects, and glitch aesthetics. This year, Saira is showcasing visual art at King Street Station from July 27 and inaugurating a new film festival — The Blue Film Fest, from August 12-14.
📸 Featured Image: This month’s New Moon film review explores “Obvious Child,” a 2014 film where a character has an abortion, a theme all too relevant today. Photo by Duané Viljoen from Pexels.com.
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