In this feature, Indiewire chief film critic Eric Kohn singles out a movie
available for free streaming from our parent company SnagFilms’ library
and tells you why you should watch it now.
The challenges faced by reclusive women doesn’t exactly scream comedy gold, but any movie that manages to venture into that unglamorous territory without cheapening its characters deserves points for taking the risk. In next week’s irreverent comedy “Obvious Child,” Jenny Slate riffs on her life as a standup comedian with an enjoyably raunchy character whose constant loudmouthed tendencies threaten to ruin her life. By the first scene, she has already scared off her boyfriend by introducing details surrounding their private life into her onstage routine. Add to that her tendency to couple her humor—both during and outside of performances—with rampant scatological references and other self-deprecating asides, all of which makes “Obvious Child” into a refreshingly unconventional take on cinematic femininity, and that’s before an abortion enters into the plot.
A24 releases “Obvious Child” next week, but if you want to get in the right mood for an awkward comedy starring a sophisticated female character, look no further than “Good Dick.” This under-seen 2008 character study, the debut feature by writer-director-star Marianna Palka, stars Palka as a porn-addicted introvert who forms a curious bond with a video store clerk (Jason Ritter) who constantly attempts to win her affections. When he attempts to make moves on her, she shows evidence of past sexual abuse, so the pair wind up just being friends as he helps her confront her inner demons. Despite these heavy themes, “Good Dick” maintains a lighthearted approach. There’s a charming quality the offbeat chemistry shared by two leads as they spent a good chunk of the movie conversing in the young woman’s apartment.
“Good Dick” was unfairly dismissed following its Sundance premiere, partly because audiences were thrown by its tonal strangeness. But there’s also a troublesome undercurrent of sexism to the movie’s mixed reception: If the gender roles were reversed, one could imagine its humor striking a chord with more male viewers. It’s rare to see an American comedy with such an uncomfortable female lead. “Good Dick” deserves a closer look for the way it presents an entirely unromantic scenario and yet—when it arrives at a dramatic showdown in which its female lead finally confronts her dark past—explores the way restrictive gender expectations have a negative impact on behavior. It’s a quietly progressive statement on a genre that deserves more even-handed approaches.
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