Dead to Me actress Natalie Morales’ directorial debut is the typical teen quest movie in the tradition of Superbad, but with a modern feminist twist. Lupe (Victoria Morolos) and Sunny (Kuhoo Verna) are two average teenage girls from South Dakota. Lupe has a reputation for being sexually active, Sunny is a self-conscious virgin. The girls are both trying to live up to the expectations of their immigrant families, without compromising their social standings in school.
After one of them has a sexual encounter at a party, they go on a mission through America’s heartland to find the Plan B pill. After their local pharmacist decides not to give the pair the pill, they have to find the nearest Planned Parenthood. This leads them to a trek across America in a car stolen from Sunny’s realtor mother.
Lupe and Sunny make a likeable pair. They have a natural chemistry that makes you believe they have been friends for years. Lupe is a slacker, hiding parts of her personality from her religious, widowed father. Sunny is a high achiever, cracking under the pressure of her Indian family, paranoid that every Indian she meets is a spy for her mother. Although the two leads come from immigrant families, their characters don’t centre around it.
Plan B hits all the familiar beats of a teen road trip drama. It never gets lost in the political aspect of two girls seeking the Plan B pill, in some ways that is beneficial to the story but in other ways, it makes it very stereotypical. Ultimately, the pair could be on a quest for anything. Plan B does the topic a disservice by not making the point about the lack of reproductive rights many people within American have. It’s a relief it’s not a PSA about safe sex and abortions but ignoring the weight of the topic feels a little disrespectful.
The road trip hits too many expected beats. They take a detour to a concert; they meet a drug dealer in a park and Sunni has a drug trip at a party. Everything is too predictable and has been done in more amusing ways over the years. As likeable as the pair are, these comedic beats are more misses than hits. It’s all a little polite and safe, encouraging the sentiment that women can’t join in the gross-out sex gags.
The scene where they meet a drug dealer in the park, who has an intimate piercing, gets very uncomfortable. Played for laughs, the fact a comedic scene about being forced into oral sex in return for a contraceptive pill exists in a film like this, doesn’t feel right.
While Lupe and Sunny have chemistry, audiences will walk away not entirely feeling like they know these girls. We know about their crushes and their sex lives, but we don’t know their future goals, how they met, and how they feel about things that aren’t love interests. There is a small scene where they talk about their families, but the pair feel too distant as characters.
Plan B shares too much DNA with Booksmart, sharing similar attitudes, characters, and jokes. Plan B sadly doesn’t match the intelligence, wit or laughs of Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut. There is a lot of good in here, but this clean brand of Gen Z comedy does a disservice to the topic of female contraception and reproduction.
Plan B is available to stream exclusively on Hulu from May 28th
by Amelia Harvey
Amelia is a freelance writer, frustrated novelist and occasional wrangling of international students. She is especially interested in LBGTQ culture and 1960s and 70s music. She also writes for Frame Rated, The People’s Movies and Unkempt Magazine, amongst others. Her favourite films include Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Moulin Rouge and Closer. You can find her on Twitter @MissAmeliaNancy and letterboxd @amelianancy
Categories: Films, Reviews, Women Film-makers
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