Natalie Morales directs your new favorite teen comedy
Look at Natalie Morales, who directed two films during the pandemic. Her bilingual video-chat drama Language Lessons premiered at SXSW in March, and now her second feature, Plan B, debuts on Hulu this week. Based on a screenplay from iZombie writers Joshua Levy and Prathi Srinivasan, the raucous comedy follows two teens in their quest for a morning-after pill in South Dakota.
Sunny (Kuhoo Verma, The Big Sick) and Lupe (Victoria Moroles, Teen Wolf) are best friends who confide in each other about everything… well, almost everything. During a spontaneous party thrown while her mom is out of town, Sunny has sex and is hesitant to admit to Lupe who it was she lost her virginity to. Meanwhile, Lupe has been messaging someone named Logan who may not be at all what Sunny expects. Before they admit these secrets to each other, they have to head on the road to Rapid City to find Plan B after a hometown pharmacist (Jay Chandrasekhar) refuses to sell to the teens.
Of course their journey is not an easy one (that would make for quite a dull movie), but the girls’ antics in this road trip film are laugh-out-loud hilarious. Bonus points go to character actress Edi Patterson for making the role of gas station attendant Doris distinctly memorable. Verma and Moroles have such a sweet chemistry that this viewer got a bit teary-eyed in a touching moment as Lupe and Sunny acknowledge the depth of their friendship.
The consensual, sex positive nature of Plan B is refreshing, and I was pleased to see an intimacy coordinator among the film’s credits. The raunchy film treats the girls as sensual beings, but refrains from objectifying any of the characters. Sunny’s cute crush Hunter (Michael Provost, Insatiable) is allowed depth; even over-the-top Christian Kyle (Mason Cook, Speechless) isn’t treated as a complete joke.
Comparisons might be made to Booksmart, but there’s enough here that makes Plan B its own unique work. Sunny and Lupe are women of color living in a majority white rural town. Both girls deal with daily racist microaggressions — we hear a few examples — and are overly concerned about the expectations their parents have for them. Lupe rebels in some ways against her father’s strict rules, but until the party, Sunny has been a dutiful daughter.
The writers making a morning-after pill be the goal of the girl’s journey is incisively relevant, as I write this in a state whose lawmakers have recently signed a restrictive anti-abortion law. The urgency of their trip won’t be lost on most viewers. Plan B is a rollicking good time, but the tight deadline the girls have to work within reminds us of these very real and impractical restrictions around reproductive choice in much of the nation.
Plan B starts streaming on Hulu Friday, May 28.