New short film is cute, quirky, and candid. And it's about abortion.

Quiz: Is this still from
a) Jenny Slate’s new short Eff-You you Effing Eff-wad?
b) a promo from the 2009 Quirkfest Filmfest?
or c) Juno II: All Grown Up?

It’s actually from Obvious Child, a short film by Gillian Robespierre which combines a little of all of the above, but with one major difference: it’s a funny, well-made movie that deals with unplanned pregnancy. (Spoiler alert: she gets an abortion and doesn’t think twice about it!)

Obvious Child from Gillian Robespierre on Vimeo.

As someone who found very little to love about Juno (I guess it was kind of cool when Jennifer Garner was like, “Fuck this.”?), and felt sooo uncomfortable when everyone around me was laughing while Katherine Hegel’s character cried at the doctor’s office in Knocked Up, it was a real breath of fresh air to watch Obvious Child.

Just over 20 minutes long, the film follows Donna through her break-up, hook-up, and its aftermath. One of the best things about the movie is that it’s not about abortion (I lied in the blog title). It’s just a hipster romantic comedy and it’s a good ten minutes in before any whiff of unplanned pregnancy surfaces. Abortion as a major plot point, but not the serious, underlying crux of the movie is just the kind of mainstream media exposure abortion needs. It’s presented as a viable option for unplanned pregnancy, the clinic isn’t presented as a scary unprofessional office (JUNO!), and the political points are subtle–but present–and not too heavy-handed (like when Donna’s mother describes her own illegal abortion).

Another win over Juno: the dialogue’s quirky, but it doesn’t sound forced or unnatural. Besides nonchalantly talking about handjobs and POWs eating poo to survive, Donna bluntly tells people she’s getting an abortion. There are no euphamisms, no beating around the bush, and definitely no “schmaschmortions.” It was really refreshing to finally hear that word, especially spoken by the woman who’s getting one.

So here’s to a well-made, funny, and not preachy movie about abortion for once! Oh yeah, did I mention it stars Jenny Slate? And that it has not one, but two versions of Paul Simon’s “The Obvious Child”?

Also, if you’ve got another twenty minutes lying around afterwards, I highly recommend Robespierre’s other short film, Chunk, which casts a cycnical look at fat camp through the eyes of a fed up girl who does not want to be there for all the right reasons. Like Obvious Child, it combines funny, awkward interactions with social commentary.

Obvious Child by Gillian Robespierre [Vimeo]
A rom com about abortion [Pandagon]

by Kjerstin Johnson
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Kjerstin Johnson is a writer and editor in Portland, Oregon. She is the former editor in chief of Bitch. She tweets at @kajerstin

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6 Comments Have Been Posted

Loved this film! Thanks for posting.

Wow. I must say thank you for turning me on to Jenny Slate's work. I've never heard of her before and I can't get over how totally awesome, sex- and woman-positive this film is. And trans friendly too — all of which is maddeningly rare.

blame it on the condom?

really? why blame it on the nyc condom? there's already enough suspicion about city-produced condoms even though they're the same as any other Lifestyles. and if used correctly, they break 1 in every 8,300 sex acts. wouldn't it make more sense to use this as an opportunity to show that people who are wasted are less likely to use a condom correctly?!?!

Song about Abortion

Amanda Palmer's "Oasis"

It's a sarcastic teeny-bopper paroding song about a girl who gets drunk and raped at a party
goes to a clinic with her best friend who'd once been molested
went to her abortion with her boyfriend with fundamentalist christians getting in their way
Then her best friend gossips about her and spreads the word she's a crack-whore
"and so now we're not talking
except we have tickets
to see Blur in October
and I think we're still going!"
All sung in a very cheery manner
and at the chorus it keeps being explained that even though the whole situation is bad, Oasis replied to her fan mail so that makes everything worthwhile- so it's also about ridiculous celebrity worship.

You might hate it, I'm not sure. She's not poking fun at abortion, she's poking fun at hip young teenagers who use alcohol as an excuse for everything and get themselves in stupid situations, that they downplay and celebrities and gossip are the most important values.

I personally really enjoy

I personally really enjoy that song, but I don't see what you're getting at. Just comparing the film and the song? I don't think alcohol is an excuse for young people to get themselves into stupid situations. I think stupid situations tend to arise from alcohol, no matter one's age.

This film made me feel nice. :P I really liked it and I also enjoyed that Donna stated quite plainly that she was getting an abortion. I could feel that abortion wasn't the point of the film, which was refreshing. The abortion seemed more like a bump in the road, rather than the end.
I completely agree that the language in Juno was just...unnatural. This film had great dialogue IMO, and it was actually funny... unlike Juno.
I also like the honest conversation she had with her mother.

No, I wasnt trying to

No, I wasnt trying to compare the film to the song, i was just mentioning the song because the main theme in it was abortion
but while i was in the midst of describing it, i realized how it could be taken, and thats why i sad the muscian was poking fun more at superficial and unintelligent teenagers (and at this i was thinking of the protagonist of the song, not the girl in this film) and not at abortion itself.
And, you know what, thats just how i view the song, thats just my opinion. For all i know amanda palmer was thinking of something entirely different and so do you, and so does anybody else who hears the song, just like any audience viewing any art form in the world will have a different opinion on it.
I just wanted to bring the song up on this post because it shared a theme with the film in the blog. It may not lean towards feminism (but it doesnt lean towards mysognisism -spelling?- either) this film just made a line from the song pop to my head so i thought i'd share about it.

And i definately agree, everyone i know LOVES Juno, so last summer i saw it, pretty excited, and was let down. It wasnt a BAD movie, it just did not deserve neaely as much praise as everyone gave it, i thought. And the thing that bothered me most about it was the unnatural dialouge. Donna's manner of speaking in Obvious Child is so close to my sister's (including her all-time favourite phrase - Fart Face) it felt like i was just listening to her speak, really. Nice movie.

I actually liked Juno, but....

this film handles the issue of abortion much, much better than Juno did. I actually re-watched Juno yesterday after seeing this, and I agree that the portrayal of the abortion clinic is outrageous in that movie. It was still funny and ultimately sweet, though. On the other hand, I really liked this film! It's so woman positive and deals with abortion in an honest way that's adequately serious given the subject matter and somehow funny at the same time. I really liked her call to her mom and talking about the abortion her mother had early on in life. It feels much more realistic than Juno did.

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