Film Review – ‘Plan B’ Should Be Your Plan A for What to Watch

Film Review – ‘Plan B’ Should Be Your Plan A for What to Watch
Plan B -- After a regrettable first sexual encounter, a strait-laced high school student and her slacker best friend have 24 hours to hunt down a Plan B pill in America's heartland. Lupe (Victoria Moroles) and Sunny (Kuhoo Verma), shown. (Photo by: Brett Roedel/Hulu)

A romantic comedy can be fun to watch because of the journey that its main characters take to try to find love. What ultimately happens and if they end up with a happy ending isn’t always relevant, since what they learn along the way can prove just as valuable. One such lesson may be that friendship is more lasting than any sort of romantic relationship, and relying on platonic partners can be most gratifying. Watching the rollercoaster of emotions and the unbreakable bond between best friends is often rewarding, and that’s the best reason to check out Hulu’s Plan B, whose tagline proclaims “The morning after is just the beginning.”

For quick context, imagine the protagonists of Superbad or Booksmart, teenagers who talk incessantly about sex and how much of it they want to have, even if their real-life conquests don’t hold up to their fabled stories. In Plan B, Sunny (Kuhoo Verma) and Lupe (Victoria Moroles) are the main characters, living in South Dakota and struggling to make it through high school. Sunny is the high-achieving student pushed by her mother to do even better, while Lupe, the daughter of a pastor, doesn’t pretend to be academically motivated. They frequently discuss what they want to be doing with the boys they see, but popularity isn’t their strong suit either. When Lupe convinces Sunny to have a party while her mom is out of town, things escalate and Sunny’s first sexual experience turns into one of panic the next morning, when she finds herself in desperate need of birth control.

This film charts a familiar course explored in some ways by the films mentioned above, with a few helpful and productive modifiers. Its South Dakota setting means that the one local pharmacy with a conservative pharmacist who refuses to give them the pill isn’t an option, and so they must drive hours to the closest Planned Parenthood in Rapid City, the perfect recipe for hijinks. Sunny’s Indian heritage gives her a frequent fear of being surveilled by the “Indian Mafia,” certain that her actions will be reported even if she is far from home. Both Sunny and Lupe bring their own learned anxieties and cultural misperceptions to all that they do, and this film manages to cleverly subvert much of what is expected and offer a fulfilling and fresh story that’s both a comedy caper and a compelling drama.

This film’s title and its tagline, and even its premise, are moderately provocative, suggesting that the impending life-destroying pregnancy that Sunny worries may come is the centerpiece of its plot. Instead, it’s merely a catalyst for this particular chain of events. While the conversation is certainly lewd and uncensored, what’s actually shown on screen is considerably less extreme, taking advantage of comedic moments where appropriate but not indulging in excessive visuals that wouldn’t otherwise drive the story forward. It employs just the right level of “gross-out” humor and doesn’t go too far, even if selected moments might have lent themselves to the opportunity.

This film also scores thanks to its cast. Verma and Moroles are considerably older (twenty-five) than their characters are supposed to be, but it’s a forgivable issue since they both bring passion and energy to their portrayals. They’re fluent in the language of sexually frustrated teenagers with vivid imaginations, and they communicate that – and the way that they feel about each other – superbly. Natalie Morales, an actress known for her performances in TV series like Abby’s, The Grinder, Dead to Me, and Parks and Recreation, delivers her second impressive directorial effort of 2021 after the SXSW hit Language Lessons, framing this story in a coherent and relatable way that elevates it considerably. All three women at the center of this film show great promise for the future, and this entertaining collaboration is a fantastic and thoroughly enjoyable start.

Grade: B+

Plan B premieres on Hulu on Friday, May 28th.

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