Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

In this insightful black comedy, a reprobate glue addict (Laura Dern), pregnant for the fourth time, must decide whether to have an abortion. While such a premise is generally not a source of great mirth—particularly when dealing with an issue that inspires such seemingly absolute and irreconcilable positions—Alexander Payne (who also directed) and Jim Taylor's smart script deflates the pretenses of both sides. After being rescued from jail by the head of the local "Baby Savers" chapter, Dern falls in with a pair of pro-choice lesbians, a situation that leads to a bidding war between the opposing parties. While never moving far from the recognizable aspects of the controversy (Burt Reynolds' funny but over-the-top minister is an exception), Payne and Taylor mine the abortion issue for all its satirical value. A deft, three-dimensional performance from Dern, playing an almost entirely unlikable character, aids incalculably in exposing what happens when political factions lose touch with the realities of the issues for which they claim to provide answers.

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