Entertainment

Are Viewers Ready For Abortion Rom-Com 'Obvious Child'?

Gillian Robespierre's indie romantic comedy "Obvious Child" is set to premiere Friday, and its abortion subplot is making headlines.

Are Viewers Ready For Abortion Rom-Com 'Obvious Child'?
A24 Films / 'Obvious Child'
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It's a big risk for a Hollywood filmmaker to slip the subject of abortion into a romantic comedy. But with the film "Obvious Child," writer and director Gillian Robespierre plans to prove moviegoers are ready for the taboo topic. 

SNL alum Jenny Slate stars as Donna, a working comedian who loses her job and breaks up with her boyfriend. Cue the one-night stand and the following pregnancy. She calls to schedule an abortion — only to find out the next available appointment is Valentine's Day. (Via A24 / "Obvious Child")

And the response from much of the media seems to be: "Finally."

Slate contributor Amanda Hess calls the indie comedy "the most honest abortion movie" she's ever seen. She goes on to say: "The girl gets an abortion and gets the guy. She doesn't even have a change of heart, contract a nasty infection, or succumb to a tragic death."

LA Weekly's critic is a little more apprehensive but suggests the time has come for a movie that's not shy about abortion.  

"Pro-life audiences won't fall in love with Donna; our national politics are too polarized for that. The real love story is between Donna and the rest of womankind, the silent (in movies) but sizable majority that understands her decision."

Descriptions such as "revolutionary," "confident," "human" and surprisingly, "funny" fill out the Internet's round of applause. (Via The Huffington PostThe AtlanticLos Angeles Times, The Washington Post)

Keep in mind, this is the response from media outlets — and this is a very sensitive subject. We imagine once the film gains momentum, more opposing voices will surface. 

A few writers delve into the historical stigma surrounding portrayal of reproductive rights on the silver screen.

Let's return to Slate. Hess dusted off the cover to the Motion Picture Production Code, which predates the MPAA ratings system. Guidelines in 1956 put it plainly: "[Abortion] must never be treated lightly, or made the subject of comedy. The word 'abortion' shall not be used." Under today's standards, the MPAA rated the movie "R" for language and sexual content.

​Unlike prior films that have made "light" of the subject, "Obvious Child" is direct. A few critics directed flak at directors such as Judd Apatow. His movie "Knocked Up" infamously dodged the word with this line:

"Tell me you don't want him to get an 'A-word'?"

"Yes, I do.  And I won't say it for little baby ears over there, but it rhymes with 'shmashmortion.'" (Via Universal Pictures / "Knocked Up")

Of course, a few corners of the Web also questioned "Obvious Child"'s effect on generations often raised on entertainment or movies.

And left-leaning blog Crooks and Liars brought up an interesting paradox. This "art house" film will likely play in a few thousand theaters and will be shown to indie fans in select cities. But according to the writer, "It's not enough, because the working-class and poor women aren't going to the local arts cinema."

"Obvious Child" is set to hit theaters in LA and New York Friday. It also stars comedian Gaby Hoffmann and "The Office"'s Jack Lacy.