Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The honesty and gentle charms of Ninjababy won me over almost instantly, solidifying it as another hilarious offering from SXSW. Taking a page from Juno’s playbook, Ninjababy is a decidedly different and humorous approach to unexpected pregnancy. The script is razor-sharp, and does an excellent job getting us acquainted with artistic Rakel. Director Yngvild Sve Flikke weaves a distinct style into the Norwegian film that allows it to stand out among an endless sea of comedies.

Rakel (Kristine Kujath Thorp) is a freewheeling partier and aspiring artist. In need of an abortion, Rakel goes to a clinic with potential father and self-defense class instructor Mos (Nader Khademi), only to discover she’s actually 6 and half months pregnant. This is well past the restriction for abortions. Rakel must decide what to do as her impending due date looms large.

The comic-infused animation sections of the story give the film a unique flavor. This allows ample time to live in Rakel’s headspace, constantly filling in the audience on her inner workings. Her comics even talk to her in self-deprecating and ridiculous ways, popping in when you least expect commentary. Kristine Kujath Thorp is terrific as Rakel, as she rattles off smart quips and hilarious semi-insults. There’s a running gag where she keeps mentioning Mos “smells like butter,” and another where she refers to her babydaddy as “Dick Jesus” (he’s a burnout stoner with little interest in having kids). Every line of Rakel’s dialogue is delivered by Kristine with a fiery power. Rakel is flawed, but never to the point where we turn against her. She is the film’s heart and soul, through and through. 

Ninjababy houses a refreshing ending that strays from the typical conventions you’d expect. I ended up falling in love with Mos and Rakel’s relationship, even if he “smells like butter.” An adorable scene where Rakel tries to weigh the pros and cons of Mos being involved as father endears her even further. She remains authentic and real, despite not being a textbook “best mother of the year.” Snarky, quirky, and tender, Ninjababy leaves its mark by embracing indie cliche in a charming, satisfying way.

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