‘Plan B,’ ‘Unpregnant,’ and the Subversive Trend of the Pro-Choice Road-Trip Movie

Every so typically, no matter unusual magic runs Hollywood leads to the coincidental launch of two comparable motion pictures round the similar time. Dante’s Peak and Volcano in 1997; The Illusionist and The Prestige in 2006; White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen in 2013; Goodbye Christopher Robin and Christopher Robin in 2017 and 2018, respectively. (Did we actually want two unhappy Winnie the Pooh origin tales? It’s laborious to say!)

Sometimes this phenomena is said to when sure tales enter the public area. Sometimes it’s attributable to comparable screenplays being shopped at completely different studios at the similar time. Sometimes, even, it’s the consequence of good ol’ industrial espionage. And generally these twin movies come up out of a rising pattern in storytelling, or a sure perspective gaining extra significance and consideration—like movies about younger ladies and their coming-of-age trials and tribulations. Voila: HBO Max’s Unpregnant, which was launched on September 10, 2020, and Hulu’s Plan B, which was launched on May 28, 2021. 

Hollywood continues to be a predominantly male enterprise: According to the 2021 UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report, white males are nonetheless the most represented group amongst movie leads, and they closely outnumber administrators of completely different genders or ethnic teams. But as Hollywood slowly acknowledges the incontrovertible fact that young women go to the movies more often than men, a mini-wave of movies from feminine filmmakers have snuck their approach into arthouse theaters or onto streaming providers, all making the similar level. Nia DaCosta’s Little Woods, Kelly O’Sullivan’s Saint Frances, Eliza Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Rachel Lee Goldenberg’s Unpregnant, and Natalie Morales’s Plan B: All of them have reiterated that ladies’s well being care in the United States is severely screwed up. 

And Unpregnant and Plan B are notably comparable—a lot so that you simply would possibly suppose you might skip Plan B should you already watched Unpregnant, or vice versa. Both movies comply with a pair of teenage ladies on a highway journey to a far-off Planned Parenthood location as a result of their center America hometowns have shut down these facilities. (During the Trump presidency, nearly 900 women’s health clinics lost their federal funding.) They each apply gross-out humor in the vein of Greg Mottola’s Superbad and think about the tumultuousness and loyalty of feminine greatest friendship as in Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart. And even the trailers hit comparable “Look at all these wacky shenanigans!” tones: 

So: Are Unpregnant and Plan B completely different sufficient to warrant spending your time watching each? Let’s take into account the proof.

UNPREGNANT LEADS
Photo: WarnerMedia

QUESTION: The excessive schoolers in each motion pictures are greatest pals, huh? 

ANSWER: Well, the first level isn’t precisely correct. The younger ladies in Plan B, Kuhoo Verma’s Sunny and Victoria Moroles‘s Lupe, are in fact best friends. In their heavily white high school, the Indian-American Sunny and Latinx Lupe stand out: “Is that, like, a Mexican thing?” one of their blonde nemeses asks Lupe of her underarm hair while they’re altering for health club. But whereas they inform one another every kind of secrets and techniques, Sunny and Lupe don’t inform each different every part, and a couple of of these surprises add some rigidity to Plan B. Meanwhile, in Unpregnant, Haley Lu Richardson’s Veronica and Barbie Ferreira’s Bailey are decidedly not tight. Although they have been shut earlier than highschool, now that they’re seniors, Veronica is an element of an uptight, Christian, academically targeted clique, whereas green-haired Brazilian-American outsider Bailey sits by herself on daily basis throughout lunch. Why the childhood greatest pals grew aside comes up throughout Unpregnant, however they’re definitely extra acrimonious in the starting of the movie than Sunny and Lupe, who’re fairly experience or die.  

QUESTION: What are their personalities like? Are we speaking Harold and Kumar, Seth and Evan, or Amy and Molly?

ANSWER: There are parts from all three of these duos in these pairs, and the character dynamics between every movie are comparable. Sunny in Plan B and Veronica in Unpregnant are overachievers with strict dad and mom who discover themselves unexpectedly needing the Plan B tablet and an abortion, respectively. Meanwhile, Lupe and Bailey are every extra uninhibited and spontaneous—like they watched Fairuza Balk in The Craft and internalized her entire vibe—and they’re the pals who volunteer to drive Sunny and Veronica to Planned Parenthood. Sunny and Veronica, each being tremendous Type A, manage their secret highway journeys all the way down to the final element, whereas Lupe and Bailey’s impulsiveness derails every plan. 

Plan B
Photo: Everett Collection

QUESTION: And every movie features a highway journey?

ANSWER: Yup! More somber movies about abortion highway journeys exist already in the kind of Little Woods, wherein Tessa Thompson and Lily James’s half-sisters journey from North Dakota to Canada, and Never Rarely Sometimes Always, wherein Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder’s cousins journey from Pennsylvania to New York City. But Plan B and Unpregnant each put a buddy-comedy spin on the very dire actuality that getting contraception, emergency contraceptives, or abortions as a minor is hella tough in the U.S., specifically in the states the place Sunny and Veronica reside (South Dakota and Missouri, respectively). Once Sunny impulsively rebels in opposition to her mom’s “good girl” expectations and loses her virginity, she tries to get the Plan B tablet from an area pharmacist—who rejects her as a result of of the “conscience clause” that permits him to refuse treating her. With nowhere else to show, she and Lupe head off to the hours-away Rapid City to allow them to go to Planned Parenthood. An analogous impediment faces Victoria in Unpregnant when she learns that she wants parental consent to schedule an abortion—a rule not solely in her residence state of Missouri, but in addition in close by Illinois, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. The closest place Victoria can obtain care is Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is virtually an odyssey away, and the solely particular person she is aware of with a automobile is Bailey. 

QUESTION: What type of hijinks go down? Awkward sexual encounters? Accidental drug use? Gen Z struggling to learn paper maps? 

ANSWER: Yes, clearly! All of these issues! These are teen comedies! They’re each humorous! Both motion pictures be certain so as to add some levity to the determined conditions wherein the protagonists discover themselves. Prathi Srinivasan and Joshua Levy’s Plan B script is persistently, splendidly vulgar, with jokes about anal intercourse and masturbation and Sunny and Lupe’s emphatic rejection of their classmates’ informal racism. The movie actually goes for gross-out moments, and the greatest embrace a drug vendor with an sudden phallic accent and a drug-fueled homage to zombie motion pictures. Unpregnant doesn’t get as lewd as Plan B, nevertheless it amuses by giving Ferreira’s Bailey a spread of bemused reactions to Veronica’s crappy boyfriend Kevin (Alex MacNicoll) and by incorporating a high-speed chase scene wherein Bailey and Veronica attempt to flee from a disaster being pregnant heart RV. Unpregnant doesn’t have as clear or as sharp of a comedic sensibility as Plan B, which may be as a result of of its 5 credited writers (Goldenberg, Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, William Parker, and Ted Caplan and Jenni Hendricks, who wrote the e-book on which the movie is predicated). But taking ‘90s skater-kid cutie Breckin Meyer and crafting him right into a pro-life zealot is a inventive level in Unpregnant‘s favor. 

QUESTION: These motion pictures sound lots alike. Do I really want to look at each?

ANSWER: Well, don’t we watch motion pictures which can be lots alike all the time? The Hangover and The Hangover Part II have been mainly the very same film. The many, many entries in the long-running motion franchises The Fast and the Furious and Mission: Impossible are all variations on a recurring theme, with a sure set of element components, characters, and normal narrative arc. Is it actually such a foul factor that two motion pictures on this restricted pro-choice road-trip subgenre share some similarities? The parallels between Plan B and Unpregnant don’t diminish the fantastically energetic performances from Verma and Moroles in the former, or from Richardson and Ferreira in the latter. They don’t reduce the hilarity of the appreciably revolting second in Plan B when Sunny’s mother investigates an intimate physique piercing, or the satisfaction in Unpregnant when Veronica makes use of a Taser to defend Bailey after realizing the depths of their friendship. And the movies’ resemblances definitely don’t erase the legitimate level each movies are making about the absurd difficulties ladies face on this nation in relation to receiving the well being care they want. “I know I made the right choice for me,” one of these younger ladies says, and the proper selection for you can be to look at each Plan B and Unpregnant.

Roxana Hadadi is a movie, tv, and popular culture critic whose bylines embrace Pajiba, The A.V. Club, RogerEbert.com, Crooked Marquee, GQ, Polygon, Vulture, and Bright Wall/Dark Room. She holds an MA in literature and lives exterior Baltimore, Maryland. She is a member of the DC Area Film Critics Association, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, and the Online Film Critics Society, and is a Tomatometer Top Critic on Rotten Tomatoes.

Watch Plan B on Hulu

Watch Unpregnant on HBO Max

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