PLAN B (TV)
(director: Natalie Morales; screenwriters: Joshua Levy/Prathiksha Srinivasan; cinematographer: Sandra Valde-Hansen; editor: Nathan Orloff; music: Isabella Manfredi; cast: Kuhoo Verma (Sunny), Victoria Moroles (Lupe), Michael Provost (Hunter), Mason Cook (Kyle), Bobby Tisdale (Bill), Edi Patterson (Doris), Moses Storm (Andy), Jacob Vargas (Pastor Pedro), Myha’la Herrold (Logan), Jolly Abraham (Rosie), Gus Birney (Megan), Jay Chandrasekhar (Pharmacist), Rachel Dratch (Ms. Flaucher), Josh Ruben (Philip Peterson); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Ryan Bennett, Jeremy Garelick, Josh Heald, Dina Hillier, Jon Hurwitz, Mickey Liddell, Matt Lottman; LD Entertainment/Hulu; 2021)
“A funny and likable girl buddy comedy.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A funny and likable girl buddy comedy. It focuses on two best girl friends of color, Sunny (Kuhoo Verma), of Indian heritage, and Lupe (Victoria Moroles), of Mexican-American heritage. They are high school students who go on a troubling all-night road trip across America’s heartland to try and get the morning-after pill.
It’s assuredly directed by Natalie Morales (“Language Lessons”), an actor-turned-filmmaker, and feverishly written by Joshua Levy and Prathiksha Srinivasan, who despite all the raunchiness drop in important thoughts about women’s rights that are needed in conservative areas like South Dakota.
Lupe is a slacker raised in a strict traditional Catholic family; the shy Sunny is a straight-A student with a bossy Indian mother, who is raised in a strict traditional Native American family. They are outsiders in their almost all white rural small town in South Dakota.
Sunny is talked into by Lupe of throwing her first-ever rager at her house when the original party scheduled in a classmate‘s house is canceled over a gunshot accident. The party can take place at Sunny’s because her mother is away for a week-end business trip and won’t know about it. The girls figure the party will attract the boys they have crushes on, Hunter (Michael Provost) for Sunny and Logan (Myha’la Herrold) for Lupe. But their plans go awry, as the horny virgin Sunny has sex with someone both girls can’t stand, Kyle (Mason Cook), when the guys they desire leave the party early with other girls. During sex the condom comes off, leaving Sunny unprotected and alarmed about becoming pregnant.
The girls visit to the local pharmacy to get a Plan B pill is in vain, as the inflexible pharmacist (Jay Chandrasekhar) says he can’t sell them the pill because Sunny is under-aged and quotes from an absurd South Dakota law known as the “Conscious Clause,” which allows pharmacists to not sell the morning-after pill if it goes against their moral belief (there really is such a law on the books).
The confused girls decide to go to the nearest Planned Parenthood, which is three hours away in Rapid City. The girls initially have problems following the GPS directions on the back roads. After stopping at a rest stop, they run into some creepy dudes in the gas station parking lot and encounter a shady teen drug dealer who isn’t sure his product is Plan B or PCP. They then end up at a remote bowling alley, where Sunny spots her crush playing in the band.
The adventurous night includes a more serious dramatic moment, as the girls have an earnest heart-to-heart talk about their lives and tell each other things they didn’t know before about each other. Road trips do this, they loosen tongues sometimes and you can’t stop talking.
I was impressed how well we got to know the girls when they hit the road, and how natural were their conversations. Credit must go to the script, the director and lead actors (who showed great chemistry together and great timing for their comical antics).
Just a year ago, writer-director Eliza Hittman successfully used a similar situation in her politically observant drama “Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always,” which was an even better film than this good one.
REVIEWED ON 6/4/2021 GRADE: B