Hammerle On… 'Obvious Child,' 'How to Train Your Dragon 2'

Robert Hammerle
July 16, 2014
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

“Obvious Child”

I really loved “Obvious Child,” and I fully understood its meaning. Women will not just understand it, but they will feel the searing emotional significance of this wonderful movie. That is a profound difference.

Jenny Slate is irresistible playing Donna Stern, a standup comic whose life is unraveling. Her boyfriend leaves her by announcing that he will be moving in with her best friend, and she finds herself pregnant after a drunken one-night stand with an interesting stranger.

She is decent, funny and on the verge of unraveling. She quickly decides on an abortion, and the ramifications manifest themselves in a warmth seldom seen on the screen.

Her divorced parents, played by Richard Kind and Polly Draper, try to lend a helping hand. Her mother even reveals she also had an abortion decades ago in college, and Donna and the audience are reminded quickly that an unwanted pregnancy is anything but rare in most families.

Incredibly, this film finds a way to find humor in nearly every dark corner of Donna’s life. Donna is surrounded by caring people, as when her father reminds her that many people find genius when they are at their lowest emotional moment.hammerle-obvious.jpg
One of the many touching moments of this film comes from Donna’s growing relationship with Max, the man who knocked her up. Played by Jake Lacy, he is a guy who must decide whether to walk away or rally to her side.
Additionally, there is a completely magnificent scene surrounding the moment when Donna ends up hitting the hay with Max. Gradually getting intoxicated, they go back to his place where they engaged in a captivating dance scene with Paul Simon singing the title song of the film, “Obvious Child.” It’s a beautiful picture of romance with a stranger, and it isn’t hard to understand how she really couldn’t recall if they used the condom that both were trying to open.

The decision by Donna to have an abortion is a story that will empower women. The recent Supreme Court opinion in the Hobby Lobby case, a decision where the five majority members are all Roman Catholic males, ironically sits center stage. Watching Donna, everyone understands that while the Right to Life movement demands that all pregnancies equate to birth, they then turn their backs, yelling “To hell with them. They’re the parents’ responsibility, not the government’s.”

The decisions that all pregnant women face are emotionally difficult under the best circumstances. That decision should be left up to the individual woman, not men running corporations or sitting on the United States Supreme Court. The three women on that Supreme Court understand that fundamental fact, and it’s time for all of us to do the same thing.

“How to Train Your Dragon 2”

Once in a while an animated film becomes a sterling adult experience. Sure, most of us need kids for company to justify the trip. It is embarrassing to sit alone and get emotionally wrapped up in an animated feature where you have a little tear in your eye.

“How to Train Your Dragon 2” falls into that category. My two grandkids finally found time in their busy schedules for me, and their parents came along for the ride. Everybody loved it, and the film evolved into a legitimate human drama that never disappointed.

The first “How to Train Your Dragon” film appeared five years ago, which is hard to believe. In that film, we discovered Hiccup and his wounded dragon Toothless as they accompanied each other on a quest to have humans and dragons trust one another. That wasn’t easy.

In this film, Hiccup’s father is the head of a kingdom that has embraced dragons with the same love that we do dogs and cats. Everybody but Hiccup is having a great time, and he sets out on a quest as if he was a Nordic version of Christopher Columbus.


In the process, he discovers new lands and new villains, and the question remains who will triumph. Although it isn’t hard to guess the answer, it makes for a pretty spirited journey. Hiccup is an immensely likeable kid with a heart of gold, and his girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera) is never far behind.

Central to the film is Hiccup’s reluctance to succeed his stern but loveable father, Stoick (Gerard Butler), as the leader of their clan. He balks at administrative duties, and his quests for new worlds lead him to the astonishing discovery of his long-missing mother. She is voiced by Cate Blanchett, and you soon realize that the two have a lot in common.

There is a nasty villain in the film known as Drago (Djimon Hounsou), and he holds humans and dragons in complete disdain. For reasons that you will see, he has the ability to hypnotize dragons, and Toothless is put in complete peril. While the kids squirm a bit in their seats, you can’t help but feel a bit uneasy at Toothless’ fate.

The film’s visual effects developed by Motohisa Adachi resemble some of the magnificent scenes in “Avatar” (2009). The scenes are beautiful, and high pitch battles with Drago’s forces leaves lives on the line.

The great thing about “How to Train Your Dragon 2” is that it reflects an attempt to cure profound divisions in their world. It reminds me of my favorite T-shirt displaying a cross, the Star of David and a Muslim symbol. Underneath it is the phrase, “Can’t we all just get along?”

Hiccup and his mother, Valka, confront the same problem, and they are determined to overcome it. They embrace love, tolerance and respect as the fundamental building blocks in life, which include the rights of all dragons to live their lives in peace.

As I watch Tea Party members criticize President Barack Obama at every turn in our country, Sunnis battling Shiites while Arabs battle Persians in the Middle East and Russians fight Ukrainians for reasons defying explanation, you almost wish that Hiccup and Toothless were around in our world. Why is everyone everywhere encouraged to be so bitter, angry and hateful?

Some guy in history once said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Was that Hiccup?

Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or working diligently in his Pennsylvania Street office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit The opinions expressed are those of the author.


Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues