Features and Columns

Fund This Film: Sundance Selected ‘Obvious Child’ Stars Jenny Slate, David Cross and Gaby Hoffman

By  · Published on December 21st, 2013

First of all, let’s not get confused. There are two films at Sundance next month with almost the same name. There’s The Obvious Child, a 12-minute animated short by Stephen Irwin (trailer here). And there’s the feature rom-com Obvious Child by Gillian Robespierre, which is the focus of this week’s column. To clear up more confusion, yes, there was already a film called Obvious Child by Gillian Robespierre. That 23-minute short from 2009 (which was once accessible on Vimeo but is now password protected – boooo!), is the precursor to this feature, which expands upon its story of a young woman who has an abortion and it’s not that big a deal.

Like the original version, the new one stars Jenny Slate, the comedienne who infamously said the F-word on SNL on her debut episode. Now she’s maybe better known for her hilariously bonkers role as Mona-Lisa on Parks and Recreation. That’s where I know her from best, anyway (not counting the Marcel the Shell shorts that I always forget are voiced by her). I guess she also stars in the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies. Good for her. So does David Cross, who also co-stars in Obvious Child. Others in the cast include former child star turned Indie Spirit Award nominee Gaby Hoffman, late regular on The Office Jake Lacy (Pete aka “Plop”), Slate’s Bestie x Bestie partner Gabe Liedman and the always lovable character actor Richard Kind.

Chipwrecked Reunion

I expect this movie to be one of the breakouts of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, where it’ll make its world premiere in the Next section (it was already included on Kate’s immediately most anticipated list) But before it gets there, the film needs help raising some post-production costs. Without the money to pay these costs, Obvious Child might not look or sound as good as it should, and then distributors won’t take notice and then it won’t get the deal in Park City it deserves and we’ll end up with more Alvin and the Chipmunks movies starring talents who should be in better movies like (we expect) this. There’s a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of $35K, and it’s already taken in more than half that amount in only a week.

If it’s already heading to Sundance and on a good track to make the goal, why should you feel the need to give the film your money? How about for a copy of the movie? Or how about a voicemail greeting by “Marcel the Shell”? Personally I’d love one from Mona-Lisa, but I’m sure there’d be some issue with NBC regarding that idea. But I bet you could get a greeting by Slate (as part of the $500 Bestie x Bestie pledge) saying something like, “You called me, and I fucking love you for that,” because it’s time we honored that honestly accidental SNL mistake. Another neat perk is the tour of NYC’s rom-com movie locations with Robespierre and producer Elizabeth Holm (Welcome to Pine Hill). I’d demand it be filmed and then edited together to look like the architecture tour montage in Hannah and Her Sisters, though.

And if you won’t give, that’s fine. Just be aware of Obvious Child. That’s really the main reason for these columns for me, too, as just a good reason to write about movies like this one. I think this movie could be something special, not just because it’s trying to go against the grain of so many movies that have antithetically inspired it (such as Juno, Knocked Up and Waitress) but also just as a showcase for Slate, who could turn out to be something big. At least as big as Sarah Silverman. Hopefully it’s not a problem that it’s one of a number of movies coming out lately with main characters who are stand-up comedians (including Sleepwalk With Me and the recently crowdfunded Folk Hero & Funny Guy) that seem to be influenced by the success of TV’s Louie though also just goes back to the ultimate rom-com, Annie Hall.

It’s too bad that along with the original Obvious Child there doesn’t seem to be any of Slate’s stand up performances online anywhere. But to get her sense of comedy, I recommend you check out some Bestie x Bestie episodes for now while you wait for the Sundance screening or your digital download of the new movie. And watch the Kickstarter video below.

Do you want to see this film? Enough to help fund it?

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.