Plan B proves there’s still some biting comedy to be had regarding teen body autonomy.
Plan B (2021) Review By Mark McPherson
Published on June 11, 2021
Rating 4 /5
Much like HBO’s Unpregnant, Plan B is another entry in what may become an emerging genre: the abortion road trip. One teenage girl has a sexual encounter she regrets and discovers she’s pregnant, seeking a means of preventing the possibility of being a young mother. Of course, finding such prevention is not easy and leads to a wild road trip. Unlike Unpregnant, however, there are less cartoonish depictions of creepy pro-life antagonists and yet a more comical tale to tell.
The film follows the two underdog teen friends of Sunny and Lupe. Sunny (Kuhoo Verma) is of Indian descent and lives with her highly strict mother who is obsessed with making sure she passes her exams with an A+ (no room for A-). Lupe (Victoria Moroles) also finds herself living with a scrutinizing family that doesn’t care for her clothing and makeup. Once they go through their morning routine of being harassed by parents, they find themselves more at ease in the school. They joke about boys, compare their conservative parents, and occasionally show their geek nature by chatting about anime. Their bantering is so lovable that it almost doesn’t come as a surprise that they can mostly hold their own against the snobby popular girls in school.
When Sunny’s mom takes off for a conference, Sunny and Lupe take this as their cue to take the 1980s movie route and hold a party. It is at the party that Sunny is hoping to connect with the cute guy she has a crush on. When denied this possibility, she instead seeks in-the-moment sex with the goofy Christian nerd, a move she later regrets. Realizing that the sex may not have been as safe as she thought, Lupe suggests Sunny get the Plan B pill. However, South Dakota has a wonky ethics clause where the pharmacist refuses to sell the teens the pill. So it’s off on a road trip to a distant Planned Parenthood.
The road trip, of course, has its many comical detours. The duo runs across a kindly rural gas station cashier who seems like a bumpkin until she sticks up for the two amid cat-calling locals and smokes some weed with them. Later, they’ll encounter a drug dealer who can offer them fake IDs to fool a pharmacist but only if they please his ridiculously pierced genitals. There are also the more emotional moments when Lupe makes tough calls about who she wants to hook up with, revealing the lesbian sexuality she doesn’t even trust Sunny to be comfortable with. Naturally, road trip logic dictates that the car will either be lost or roughed up for further antics.
I was surprised just how effective Plan B was at being humorous while still finding an emotional core. The way the film begins with its quirky dialogue had me laughing quite early and it only got better from there. Easily the most gut-busting of scenes involves a penis and piercing ring with a shockingly absurd punchline. Towards the end of the film, however, a little more of the colder reality sets in, where Planned Parenthood is constantly targeted and teenagers find themselves desperate for someone, anyone to help them out during tough times when the whole world seems against them.
Plan B proves there’s still some biting comedy to be had regarding teen body autonomy. There’s a strong message present but also some expertly written humor to make the film as effective at laughs as it is at proving a point. It’s a film that makes us love and care about teenagers like Sunny and Lupe enough that hopefully we’ll think of them, exaggerated as they may be when subjects of teen pregnancy protrude into the news cycles and debates. A film with a good point needs to be a good movie first and, thankfully, Plan B is a great movie.
Mark has been a professional film critic for over five years and a film lover all his life.