Plan B

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Plan B was a pleasantly surprising recent release with elements of the classic coming-of-age story and modern comedy. Director Natalie Morales is a well-known comedic actress and has a few directing credits under her belt, but this is her feature film debut.

We are immediately introduced to our protagonists: best friends Lupe and Sunny, children of immigrants in a mostly-white suburban town. Even in the exposition, the film tastefully (although not subtly) explores the struggles that come with being minorities, young women, and blossoming sexual beings. Their average day at school includes digs about race and class from the mean girls, an awkward sex ed class, and hopeless pining over their crushes.

Lupe is a force to be reckoned with: a rebellious pastor’s daughter who wears dark makeup and punk fashions. She’s known to go through boyfriends like a wildfire and doesn’t take shit from anyone. Sunny is the perfect daughter: diligent student, goody-two-shoes, reserved and innocent.

The action starts after Lupe convinces Sunny to throw a party while her mom is away. Sunny loses her virginity to the token Christian nerd while Lupe is stood up by Logan. The morning after, Sunny realizes she needs a Plan B pill… but their local pharmacist refuses to sell it to her. This sends the girls on a wild 24-hour adventure: road-tripping to the nearest Planned Parenthood with 100% unplanned meetups with zany rest stop cashiers, strung out drug dealers, and both girls’ crushes.

I was impressed by the sharp dialogue, especially because of the way most made-for-teens content breaks down Gen Z’s colloquialisms into nothing but disjointed, insipid slang. The script was witty and fresh. The cast had great chemistry, with vibrant performances from Kuhoo Verma (Sunny) and Victoria Moroles (Lupe). Scenes between the girls and their love interests were genuinely romantic and felt very natural. Their various peers also added a lot of fun supporting work. Mason Cook certainly stood out as Kyle the Jesus freak. I admit I wasn’t laughing out loud, but the film made up for its low-key humor with touching moments of bonding, realization, and breakdown. I was especially happy to discover that Lupe’s newest boy is actually a girl—it was refreshing to see a heroine whose sexual identity wasn’t her only personality trait, but still appropriately important to her growth.

Plan B‘s message is simple and straightforward: the morning after pill should not be a big deal. And in the end, Sunny’s mother makes this explicitly known by going straight to the local pharmacy to rub the purchase in the antagonist pharmacist’s face. Sunny comes clean about the entire weekend with her mother which begins repairing their distant relationship, and Lupe is able to reconnect with her father, having seen just how unconditional his love is.

I honestly wasn’t expecting to like this movie as much as I did, and was really happy with its representation of today’s teenagers. Most coming of age stories that resonated with my parents didn’t do the same for me. Superbad, Dazed and Confused, and American Pie were funny, but always felt too raunchy, too out-there. Even more recent attempts like Booksmart or Lady Bird struck me as rather unrealistic. Plan B hit the sweet spot between funny, heartwarming, depressing, and honest for a perfect slice of life in modern America.

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