It’s an “A” day at the movies: Abortions and abductions reign in top-notch films

I never thought I’d laugh so hard at abortion jokes. Don’t get me wrong — director Todd Solondz’s mind-bending “Palindromes” is a class act through and through — it just happens to deal with some very serious issues in an uncomfortably funny way.

The movie tells the story of Aviva, a young girl who announces to her mother (played brilliantly by Ellen Barkin) that she wants to have lots of babies “because that way I would have lots of people to love.” When a boy impregnates her and she explains to her parents that she wants to keep the baby, her mother forces her to have an abortion, pleading, “It’s not a baby! Yet! It’s like it’s just a tumor!”

Soon after her abortion and the realization that her own mother’s love is somewhat conditional, Aviva runs away from home only to have motel-room anal sex with a meek truck driver named Joe (Stephen Adly-Guirgis). But it’s not rape — Aviva asks him to do it and thanks him afterward (“I never knew it was so beautiful”). Soon after the intercourse, though, Joe ditches her, and Aviva is taken into a loving family led by a woman named Mama Sunshine (Debra Monk). When Joe shows up at the Sunshine house, however, things get really interesting. Oh, and did I mention that Aviva is played by eight actors throughout the movie — including a 6-year-old black girl, a white male teenager and Jennifer Jason Leigh?

While it may sound like a politically left-minded film, “Palindromes” manages to expose major flaws in liberal and conservative doctrine equally, questioning the base values of both. Solondz makes monsters of both pro-lifers and pro-choicers, and by the end of the film I wasn’t sure what I thought anymore — a fact which I attribute to Solondz’s genius storytelling and not my own weak convictions.

“Palindromes” is one of the most entertaining and challenging films so far this year — see it now!

— Nick Anderman