SXSW Film Review: Ninjababy [Yngvild Sve Flikke]

Since we hit peak accidental-pregnancy-drama back in 2007, I don’t think I have set eyes on another fictional account of adventitious gamete excursion. A decade of taboo breaking has also lessened the novelty and impact of these stories on the typical audience. I, for one, no longer remember what Juno or Knocked Up was precisely about. Which mean it is the perfect time for a revival. And since stoic Norwegians are the perfect embodiment of the “no-fuss”, pragmatic Scandinavian stereotype, why not marry the two and watch the ensuing hilarity?

I’d like to think Ninjababy is borne of such a light-hearted meeting of ideas. But in truth it does not matter if it’s meant to be comedic or a moral statement. Aspiring cartoonist Rakel suddenly finds herself 6 months pregnant, which, among other inconveniences, quickly becomes the most inconveniently all-consuming event, as pregnancies are wont to do. She needs to deal with it quickly, before it gets out (of hand) and destroys her future. However, as she is dealing with a living, breathing, energy-sucking human being, that’s not so easy. Personifying (because anthropomorphasization does not work on humans-to-be) it as NINJABABY due to its uncanny ability to stay undetected until well-after the abortion window, Rakel must negotiate with herself, boyfriends, sisters, as well as the snarky baby and come up with a pragmatically workable solution.

While Ninjababy is a great animated character with quick one-liners. Rakel’s attitude carries the entire film. Of course, she is not without feelings of remorse for the welfare of her child, but there are other calculations that must be balanced. Half-way through, most would think that she will eventually give in, have the baby, and live as a sedentary housewife. But that’s not how she rolls. Whether looking at people and doing computational > eval() like Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes, directing her love-interest and the one-night-stand dad-to-be about, or acting the middle-class-ist who punches up, her character only strengthens as the film develops. The most riotous moment is when Rakel sneaks into a prep class to “test” people, only to get drawn into an argument with potential adoptive parents on how their target pool, and by extension their moral benevolence, is not racially diverse enough. That scene alone makes this film a worthwhile watch. But ultimately what I like about the film is in fact its pragmatism. Sure, one may think it’s a great feminist statement to reject the clich√© expectation – but being a rebel for rebellion’s sake requires confirmation, from onside or outside. And when others are evaluating your “worth” with their own formula, where does that leave you? Life will go on regardless … why not dictate it the way you want?

Posted on by Gary in Movies, South By Southwest

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