‘Egg’ Film Review: Christina Hendricks and Alysia Reiner Carry Prickly Pregnancy Comedy

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It’s a fascinating thing to watch a director’s work evolve over a ten-year period, particularly if the director is a woman moving from her 20s to her 30s, the pressing concerns changing with every year. Marianna Palka debuted in 2008 with her film “Good Dick,” exploring the relationship between a dysfunctional young video-store clerk and a man who rents his porn from her. It’s a darkly comic film obsessed with the desperation of youth and the desire for connection, themes that found their way into her next two films, “I’m the Same” and “Always Worthy.”

But something has shifted in Palka’s work in the past few years, a change marked with 2017’s “Bitch,” about a stay-at-home mom who snaps and begins acting like a rabid dog. This is a film searching to examine the deficiencies of traditional gender dynamics in a marriage and family, poking holes in the perfect life portrayed in cereal commercials. Palka’s latest film, “Egg,” written by newcomer Risa Mickenberg, comes off like a continuation of “Bitch,” or perhaps even an explanation of it, how the act of a woman defying gender norms can destroy relationships but also save the self.

Alysia Reiner (“Orange Is the New Black”) plays Tina, an artist working through her ambivalent or hostile feelings towards motherhood in a new series. She’s flighty and self-conscious as she and her husband Wayne (Gbenga Akinnagbe, “The Deuce”) prepare for the arrival of Tina’s best friend Karen (Christina Hendricks) and Karen’s husband Don (David Alan Basche. “The Exes”). The use of “best friend” is flexible, here, as Tina and Karen rarely see one another and display very little in common as grown adult women on different paths. Nonetheless, they remain connected via the invisible thread of young adult female bonding that allows them to oscillate between antagonism and deep connection.

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The first words out of Tina’s mouth when Karen arrives are proclamations of how gigantic Karen has gotten, which Karen swallows with an uneasy smile. Tina views Karen’s eight-month-pregnant belly as a kind of weapon of femininity, intruding into Tina’s space and reminding her that she has chosen a less traditional path; we find out later on that Tina and Wayne are expecting a child as well, only a surrogate will be birthing it.

Meanwhile, Wayne dotes on Karen with a paternalistic glee, offering her an array of pregnancy-safe food and drink, commenting on her pleasant smell and plump appearance, which only grates on Tina further. Throughout, it’s tit for tat, with each character in this chamber piece waxing on happiness and desire. The best chunk of the script comes when the men have left the apartment to pick up Tina and Wayne’s surrogate, leaving Tina and Karen to prove why it is they’ve kept in touch all these years; Reiner and Hendricks evoke a familiarity and vulnerability, perfect opponents and allies equally.

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Tina picks and picks on Karen, taking out all of her anxieties about motherhood on her pregnant friend, without realizing Karen may have secret anxieties of her own. But “Egg” makes clear that, in some way, choosing to have children or not have children is a form of survival. In Tina’s case, she frees herself from the physical discomfort and emotional bond of a baby to complete her artwork; she says she’d rather have the freedom of being the child’s “father,” which visibly angers Don, a character who could have courted Joan in “Mad Men” but still of the contemporary world.

Tina accuses Don of being afraid of her, because she chooses not to be a traditional woman, thereby threatening his dominance as a man. It’s a beautiful little speech and offers, surprisingly, some of the better dialogue in the script, considering that the men here are actually the weakest element of this story and largely function as archetypes.

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The trajectory of the film is a bit extreme, with everything coming to a head in the span of a roughly real-time 90 minutes, and yet Reiner and Hendricks work to manage the tension, inflating and diffusing until the pressure pops this delicate bubble. “Egg” calls to mind the work of other overt feminist filmmakers, like Sally Potter, who also took a stab at a film that plays out like a contained, absurdist stage production with the recent “The Party.”

There is truth in this story, even if the ending becomes unwieldy. One can equally cringe at each woman’s justifications for having or not having children, illuminating the tiresome fact that there is no right way for a cis woman to age into the world. But it’s also simply nice to see Palka embracing the messiness of feminist theses as she progresses in her career, and if she continues delivering a movie a year, someday we’ll likely be able to examine the full life of a woman through the entirety of her body of work.



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Women Producers and Filmmakers on Telling Their Own Stories – and Making Room for Other Women to Do the Same

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Several of Hollywood’s most successful filmmakers, producers, writers and showrunners appeared at TheWrap’s Power Women Summit on Friday to discuss the various ways they’re revolutionizing the industry by working their own perspectives into the mainstream — and making room for other underrepresented voices to do the same.

Historically, that hasn’t been the easiest thing to do in this business, said Skydance Television president Marcy Ross, who had to fight to get the Netflix comedy “Grace & Frankie” in front of viewers even with all of the proven talent attached.

“[When] we were developing it, Marta Kauffman, Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda and my brilliant partners at Skydance — All women, that was by design — We took it to an agency at that time, a room full of men,” said Ross. “We presented the package, where we’re going to go with it, the whole theme of disenfranchised older women, and they started to laugh.”

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Five and a half years before the series would go on to become one of Netflix’s flagship comedies with multiple Emmy nominations to its name, Ross and company were told, “This is going to be such an estrogen-fest. You’re never going to sell it.”

Amy Ziering, the Oscar-nominated producer of “The Invisible War,” received similar pushback from executives when she and her partners were trying to sell the documentary about systemic sexual abuse in the military.

“We could get into any room,” said Ziering, who at the time already had a proven track record of multiple successful documentary features and even an Emmy nomination. “But what was so amazing to me was that what we heard was that no one cares about women’s stories. No one cares about women being raped. And of course, no one’s going to care about women being raped in the military. So we couldn’t get a penny.”

“I wonder if they would’ve said that today. I would hope there’s more consciousness,” said Ross. “Actually, I hope there’s more f—ing fear.”

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Such attitudes meant that not only were these women forced to carve out their own path to tell their own stories, but once they were given the opportunity, they felt a duty to give others the chance to do the same.

“I really wanted to create an atmosphere where people who were best for the job were getting the job,” said Carly Craig, creator and star of the YouTube Premium comedy “Sideswiped.” That meant taking chances on women — both in front of and behind the camera — who don’t have as much experience.

“My co-showrunner, Robin Schiff, and I just packed it full of women,” she said. “I wanted to create an atmosphere that was safe, not abusive and that was fun. I mean, we’re doing entertainment, and I really wanted to make the show entertaining while we’re doing it.”

“Jane the Virgin” creator Jennie Snyder Urman similarly made it a priority to bring other women into the room when she was developing her CW dramedy. And not just women, but Latinx writers and other people of color.

“I’ve always wanted to tell stories about women, because the more stories there are, the less we have to fit into one box, or one set of assumptions,” said Urman. “I had to really connect with who [Jane] was, and make sure to hire enough people to make sure that the stories and the voices in the room and behind the scenes can fill in the gaps of what I don’t know.”

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She continued, “That opened up a whole new level of my consciousness and my commitment to increasing diversity … That’s one of the most important things you can do, is to help others on their way up.”

Urman spoke on a panel sponsored by CBS Eye Speak, a CBS initiative to promote female empowerment and help develop the next generation of leaders through insight and opportunities, which also included “Fruitvale Station” and “Sorry to Bother You” producer Nina Yang Bongiovi, “Manchester by the Sea” producer Kimberly Steward and “RBG” directors Btsy Cohen and Julie West.

Yang Bongiovi and her producing partner Forest Whitaker work exclusively with directors of color, often filmmakers who haven’t yet been given their first break. That roster includes Boots Riley, the rapper and activist behind this year’s critically acclaimed “Sorry to Bother You.”

“People say, ‘You guys are crazy for doing this,’ but our films are not just critically acclaimed, they’re profitable,” said Yang Bongiovi, adding that a proven history of success allows her to take big risks on movies like Riley’s.

But to this day, that hasn’t always been an easy road to walk, especially in an industry resistant to change and beholden to outmoded narratives like the idea that films anchored by actors of color don’t sell well overseas. “I had to yell at these two men and tell them to stop it,” she said, describing a recent meeting with potential new investors who didn’t were trying to cap the budget on a project because of its diverse cast.

“It takes a little bit of patience. I’d be mad all day if I took every grievance,” added Steward, explaining that people even underestimate her as a woman of color. “In those moments where I am patient, I try to teach … Being here is a representation of that. To show that this market is diversifying, that women are in positions of power, and now we can work to give that access to everyone.”

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Having that access and telling a wide range of women’s stories can make a real difference in lives of people even outside the industry. Ziering saw that first-hand when she made her followup to “Invisible War,” the acclaimed documentary about campus rape, “The Hunting Ground.”

“Not everyone, but I would say 60 percent of the students who spoke to us said, ‘I’m only talking to you because I saw that woman in the military get up on screen and talk. And because I saw her, I have the courage to do this,’” said Ziering.

And maybe that went even further than Ziering’s own work. When “The Hunting Ground” earned an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song, dozens of young sexual assault survivors took the stage at the Oscars alongside Lady Gaga in a show of solidarity and hope.

“Consciously or unconsciously, maybe that helped infect the Hollywood movement. All these actresses could say ‘If these kids can stand up, why can’t we tell our stories?’” said Ziering. “That’s the power of women. That’s why we need to represent [ourselves] and tell our stories.”

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Laura Dern, Lin-Manuel Miranda, America Ferrera Among Stars at Rallies to Protest Trump Immigration Policy

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Superstore” star America Ferrera, “Hamilton’s” Lin-Manuel Miranda and R&B star Alicia Keys were among the big-name stars who joined the thousands of protesters who gathered on Saturday to protest the Trump administration’s immigration policy

In dozens of cities across the country, protesters gathered at various “Families Belong Together” marches to protest the administration’s zero-tolerance policy to detain and separate unauthorized migrant parents from their children attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I am here not only as a brand new mother, as the proud child of Honduran immigrants and not only an American who sees it as her duty to be here defending justice,” Ferrera said at the gathering in Washington D.C. “I am here as a human being with a beating heart, who can feel pain, who understands compassion and who can easily imagine what it must feel like to struggle the way families are struggling right now.”

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“This fight does not belong to one group of people, one color of people, one race of people, one gender — it belongs to all of us. What makes humans remarkable is our capacity to imagine. We have an imagination, let’s use it,” she said.

America Ferrera reads a letter from a grandfather fighting to sponsor his granddaughter: “I want you to imagine that this is your child, that you are this grandfather.” (via CBS) pic.twitter.com/Dk0wlGPMjD

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 30, 2018

Keys also delivered a speech at the rally, accompanied by her 7-year-old son. “Our democracy is at stake. Our humanity is at stake. We are out here to save the soul of our nation,” she said.

Miranda sang a lullaby rendition of the “Hamilton” song “Dear Theodosia,” which he dedicated to the children who were separated from their parents and detained after crossing into the U.S.

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Lin-Manuel Miranda is singing a lullaby for children separated from their parents pic.twitter.com/csctFNjR5T

— Meg Wagner (@megwagner) June 30, 2018

We’re not backing down. #familiesbelongtogether

A post shared by America Ferrera (@americaferrera) on

Other Hollywood notables who showed up in marches across the country included “Big Little Lies” star Laura Dern, “Orange Is the New Black’s” Diane Guerrero and Alysia Reiner, Kerry Washington, Amy Schumer, Padma Lakshmi and Chrissy Teigen.

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Love wins @lauradern #girlpower???? #familiesbelongtogether r

A post shared by Lea Thompson (@lea_thompson) on

#FamiliesBelongTogetherLA

A post shared by @ lauradern on

God bless you, San Francisco. Thank you for turning out, standing up, and speaking out. #FamiliesBelongTogether @MoveOn pic.twitter.com/cyrNwN3Euo

— Kerry O’Malley (@TheKerryOMalley) June 30, 2018

WATCH: Actress @dianeguerrero__ took the stage Saturday at D.C.’s #FamiliesBelongTogether rally to share her own experience of family separation and demand change for the children being “irreversibly damaged” at the border. https://t.co/8pa8893VAT pic.twitter.com/5sizytvHZt

— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) June 30, 2018

???????????????????????????????????????? @kerrywashington @alysiareiner @amyschumer #FamiliesBelongTogether pic.twitter.com/13TGeDlb8L

— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) June 30, 2018

There are 600+ #FamiliesBelongTogether events happening TOMORROW. I’ll be speaking and introducing @johnlegend in downtown LA. Text BELONG to 97779 to join. Find an event near you this weekend: https://t.co/j7ifhy0e1c #FreeFamilies

— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) June 30, 2018

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Amber Tamblyn, Shannon Watts, Payal Kadakia, Kathryn Finney Join TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast Series

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WrapWomen is pleased to welcome new speakers to its upcoming three-city breakfast series including actress Amber Tamblyn, gun control activist Shannon Watts, digital strategist Kathryn Finney and ClassPass founder Payal Kadakia.
Actress and activist Ta…

Christina Hendricks & Alysia Reiner Foster Dialogue On Motherhood With ‘Egg’

Read on: Deadline.

Receiving Risa Mickenberg’s script for Egg—premiering this week in Tribeca—director Marianna Palka had an instant, strong reaction to the material, recognizing something that had the potential to be really special.
“David [Alan …

Jordan Klepper’s ‘Nightly Show’ Replacement Finally Gets a Name – and a Premiere Date

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Comedy Central made a series of mid-level announcements Tuesday morning from the Beverly Hilton ballroom, where the Viacom cable network participated in Day 1 of the Television Critics Association (TCA) Summer Press Tour.

For starters, “The President Show” and “The Jim Jeffries Show” are each getting additional episodes, which was pretty much always the plan. Additionally, Jordan Klepper’s late-night show — which will finally replace Larry Wilmore’s “The Nightly Show” — and Season 4 of Broad City both got premiere dates. They also each unveiled some new details, like the Klepper-series’ title, “The Opposition.”

Plus, “The Daily Show” informed TV critics and reporters that it was heading to Chicago for a week in October. And finally, Comedy Central president Kent Alterman said that comedy quartet Goatface is getting a one-hour special on his network.

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Let’s tackle these in order: “The President Show” gets a back-7 order; Jim Jeffries lands 10 more episodes.

Klepper’s  show is set to start Sept. 25 at 11:30 p.m. “The Opposition with Jordan Klepper” will satirize the hyperbolic, conspiracy-laden noise machine that is the alternative-media landscape on both the right and left, per Comedy Central. “The Opposition” is the voice of the new America. It is the America that defines its own reality. It’s the America of paid protestors, Obama’s birth certificate, and the certainty that CNN is fake news.

As for “Broad City,” its fourth run kicks off Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 10:30 p.m. As previously announced, this season will see Hannibal Buress, Arturo Castro, Paul W. Downs and John Gemberling recurring. It also boasts the following lineup of guests, most of which were known prior to Tuesday: RuPaul Charles, Shania Twain, Steve Buscemi, Sandra Bernhard, Mike Birbiglia, Jane Curtin, Susie Essman, Peri Gilpin, Alysia Reiner, Amy Ryan, Constance Shulman and Wanda Sykes.

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“The Daily Show Undesked Chicago 2017: Let’s Do This Before It Gets Too Damn Cold” will telecast from the Athenaeum Theatre from Monday, Oct. 16 through Thursday, Oct. 19.

Goatface consists of “The Daily Show’s” Hasan Minhaj, as well as Asif Ali, Fahim Anwar and Aristotle Athiras. The special has no air-date yet.

Readers of TheWrap can expect lots of announcements like these over the next few weeks: TCA runs today through Aug. 9.

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Alysia Reiner, Christina Hendricks, Anna Camp To Star In ‘Egg’; Jim Klock Cast In ‘Green Dolphin’

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Orange Is the New Black‘s Alysia Reiner, Christina Hendricks, and Anna Camp have signed on to topline motherhood dark comedy Egg, directed by Marianna Palka from indie production company Over. Easy. LLC. Also starring David Alan Basche and Gbenga Akinnagbe, the pic centers on conceptual artist Tina (Reiner), when she introduces her eight-month pregnant art school rival (Hendricks) to her non-traditional surrogate Kiki (Camp), the truth outs and the patriarchy fights to…