Updated: Jul 13, 2021
Plan B (streaming on Hulu) is a raunchy comedy about a couple of high school girls. It follows in the tradition of recent movies like Superbad or Booksmart in that, amid all the sex and drug related hijinks, it is really interested in friendship and growing up. While it is not as good as the two examples I mentioned, it is sweet and funny, with a charming central relationship and a message it delivers organically.
The story actually shares elements with the 2020 dramedy Unpregnant, in that they are both about teenage girls adversely affected by how the state they live in (Missouri in that one, South Dakota in this one) stigmatizes sexual activity through laws. In Unpregnant, the protagonist needs to go on a road trip to New Mexico so she doesn’t have to get parental consent to have an abortion. Plan B follows a journey to get a Morning After pill. This is made significantly more complicated by South Dakota’s Conscience Clause, which the girls learn of when the local pharmacist refuses to sell the pill to someone under the age of 18 due to his religious beliefs. The movie doesn’t need to constantly comment on the issue of laws that dissuade sexual activity (mostly on the basis of religion). As a viewer, I was always aware that the trouble the girls were getting into wouldn’t have happened if the pharmacist (who positions himself as a force for good) just sold them the stupid pill in the first place.
Sunny is pushed by her mother to be perfect. Her best friend Lupe regularly tests her Pastor dad’s values with her clothes and makeup. When Sunny’s mom goes out of town, Lupe talks her into throwing a party. One thing leads to another and now, after a condom mishap, Sunny is in desperate need of a Plan B pill. When the pharmacy doesn’t work out, they decide to take Sunny’s mom’s car and get the pill from Planned Parenthood, three hours away.
The screenplay (by Joshua Levy and Prathiksha Srinivasan) largely avoids superfluous detours. Though I only laughed out loud once, it is consistently amusing and not overly pushy with what it has to say. The direction, by actor-turned-director Natalie Morales, keeps a good pace, never overwhelming its simple buddy story or heavier topics with showiness. Morales generally stays out of the way, letting the dialogue and her leads shine.
And the leads definitely do shine. Kuhoo Verma, as Sunny, is fantastic. She has great comic timing and funny line delivery, but she is also able to handle the dramatic moments with a quiet fear I found very believable. It is a confident and impressive performance. Victoria Moroles as Lupe is the outwardly self-assured one who is secretly dealing with a lot of uncertainty, directed at herself as well as her future. Her cynicism is clearly masking her own insecurities. None of this stuff is particularly original, yet the screenplay sees them as people and Morales allows the actors to play them as individuals. Verma and Moroles have excellent chemistry with each other. It is fun to simply watch them on the screen together.
Even though the wacky teen adventure/road trip comedy with serious themes is becoming enough of a subgenre that its formula is starting to be recognizable, Plan B works. It works because, despite being pretty predictable, it isn’t just a series of gags or plot developments; the story comes from the characters. The fact that Sunny and Lupe are genuinely likable carries it past its derivative elements into something quite enjoyable.
3½ out of 5
Kuhoo Verma as Sunny
Victoria Moroles as Lupe
Michael Provost as Hunter
Mason Cook as Kyle
Myha’la Herrold as Logan
Jolly Abraham as Rosie
Jacob Vargas as Pastor Pedro
Directed by Natalie Morales
Written by Joshua Levy and Prathiksha Srinivasan