For Generation Z, birth control should be easier than ever and access to abortion is a right, and yet women’s physical autonomy is still under attack. Last year there were two films about teenagers helping each other across state lines to get much-needed health care: Eliza Hittman‘s neo-realistic drama “never seldom sometimes always “ and Rachel Lee GoldenbergBuddy Comedy “Not pregnant. “ Both films show that access to unrestricted health care for teenage girls is a federal issue that hits hardest in rural America.
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In South Dakota, Natalie Morales“Directorial debut”Plan B“Begins in the manner of other recent female-led teen sex comedies like “Booksmart”: BFFs sunny (Kuhoo Verma) and magnifying glass (Victoria Moroles) are horny and ready to do something about it. Both girls have strict parents – Sunny’s mother imposes Indian traditions on her daughter, Lupe’s father is a pastor. When we first met Sunny, the first thing in the morning she used an anatomy book for masturbation material. Lupe starts the day with her siblings at the breakfast table. Her dad says her streaked hair and black lipstick make her look like a depressed skunk.
Morales ’” Plan B “takes the tropes of a teen sex comedy onto the streets and, like in” Unpregnant “, transforms a simple road trip into a Kafka-like journey. The mix of these two related genres keeps the action of the film at a lively pace and also allows Sunny and Lupe to meet a variety of bizarre characters who take turns helping or scare them off with their mission. While the comedic tone in “Plan B” is broad and crazy, Morales manages to keep an emotional honesty at its core.
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After getting to know the girls in their respective homes, we see what life is like for them in school. In physical education, Sunny watches her crush from a distance, while her blonde rival shamelessly flirts with him. In the locker room, the same girl hurls insults at them, even though our brave heroines shoot volleys right back. Things are changing for the better while in a painfully outdated sex class. Sunny and her crush Hunter (Michael Provost) share a spark after drilling holes in a terrible metaphor that likened women’s virginity to a used car. Lupe urges Sunny to keep the momentum going by inviting him to a party they are about to throw.
After seeing Hunter leave the party with the mean girl who always makes Sunny’s life hell, she makes the impulsive decision to have sex with someone else at the party. The next day she notices that the condom has stayed in her all night, horrified, she and Lupe go to the only pharmacy in her small town to get the Plan B pill. However, citing the “conscience clause”, the pharmacist refuses to sell the pill to underage girls. Your only other option? Steal Sunny’s mother’s van to get to the next planned pregnancy, which is three hours away in Rapid City. Unfortunately, both of them are met by poor GPS directions, creepy guys in a gas station parking lot, a seedy teenage drug dealer not sure if his product is Plan B or PCP, and Lupe’s impulsive decision to take the girls to a secluded bowling alley where you Crush plays in a band.
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The most important part of a movie about best friends is that they are feeling like best friends. Verma and Moroles have excellent chemistry together and both are as fun as hell. It seems like a trope in teen movies now that one girl is straight and the other is queer, but honestly, considering that LGBTQ + characters are historically underrepresented in the movie, it’s still great to be in this movie too see. Here the two girls are hiding something about their sexuality – although they seem to be telling each other everything. Your best friend knows you better than anyone, and that’s why the scariest thing is to admit something that could change the way they see you.
Another new trope in recent teen films is feminist teenagers who respect passionate, smart teenage girls. We saw that in earlier this year Amy Poehlers “Moxie “, and we’ll see it here again. Sunny meets Hunter at the bowling concert, where her spark is ignited in a full flame. It’s refreshing to see how boys in movies are just as nervous about talking to smart girls as the smart girls are about talking to them. Equality for everyone!
The film is also an excellent illustration of how remote and isolated certain parts of this country are and yet can feel so small. South Dakota is the seventeenth largest by area but the fifth largest with a population of less than a million people. Much of the storyline progresses because the various characters you encounter happen to know each other. The island location is also used for a joke. Every time Sunny sees another person of Indian descent, she fears that the “Indian Mafia” will report back to her mother.
During the script of the film by Joshua Levy and Prathiksha Srinivasan definitely follows a formula, his path is bizarre and delightful. Like many actors who have become directors, Morales has a clear talent for guiding their cast through complex emotions. Verma’s performance as Sunny is particularly complex and easily switches from broad comedic set pieces to a heartbreaking breakdown in the parking lot of the Planned Parenthood. Morales is also adept at using music to set the tone, dropping Peach’s “F – The Pain Away” while Sunny gets upset during her party, or the revelation of Lupe’s love for Christian trap music.
As with any good road trip movie, the destination isn’t really the point. What matters is the inner path. The trials and tribulations of that one crazy night bring them closer together as friends and give them the confidence to show their parents who they really are, too. While “Plan B” follows a familiar map, the side streets make for a unique journey. [B]
“Plan B” is now available on Hulu.