When it comes to film, perhaps no genre is harder to master than that of a comedy. It’s a genre that most people admit to liking, yet when you ask someone to name their favorite comedy, the conversation quickly turns into a ridiculously tough game of Jeopardy. Action fans, however, are easier to please, one part explosions mixed with two parts side-boob and a dash of aerial helicopter shots. Even a moderately entertaining dramatic film can garner intense adulation as long as it hits home with at least one scene (step forward Captain Philips). As an audience, we have set the standard for what we consider to be “funny”, incredibly high – so high in fact – that few comedy classics are ever produced.  Yet Gillian Robespierre’s hilarious new film Obvious Child, can be considered in that very elite.

The film centers around Donna Stern (Jenny Slate), a struggling comedian whose life is thrown into turmoil after her boyfriend leaves her for a so-called friend, and she loses her job at a second hand book store. Things look pretty bleak for our heroine, until hope arrives in the form of Max (Jake Lacy), a mild-mannered boy from Alabama whose dorky, clean-cut personality may be just what Donna needs.  The two immediately hit it off, and after a painfully awkward first encounter, Donna becomes not only entranced by this boy, but also very very… pregnant.

In the hands of a less capable director, this film could have taken a more predictable, sorrowful turn, and yet Robespierre has taken an incredibly polarising issue like abortion, and deals with it in a way that is both extremely hilarious, and completely unapologetic, taking what is a taboo, and normalising it. Often films of this ilk can be accused of pushing too hard for an emotional reaction, and this is a notion our filmmakers ignores. Obvious Child is foremost a comedy, and at no point is that compromised by the intense subject manner at hand.

Obvious Child also has the fortune of being such a remarkably well cast piece of cinema, with Slate shining in the lead role, creating a character in Donna that is instantly endearing, and deeply familiar. The film is almost completely devoid of lulls and Slate is a big reason for that. Other notable performances include Richard Kind as Donna’s nurturing, puppeteer father Jacob, and Polly Draper as Donna’s over-bearing, yet kind mother Nancy.

There’s no denying that this picture will not play well to everyone, but for many of us, there is a lot to resonate with in the characters of Donna and Max. Which, while perhaps seeming like something of a concern, is exactly where this film triumphs.