Plan B (2021)
Written by Prathi Srinivasan & Joshua Levy
Directed by Natalie Morales
There seems to be a resurgence of teen comedies in the last few years with the likes of Booksmart that follows the footsteps of Superbad with female leads. I am in for it, and I think I might be a little biased regarding Natalie Morales’s directorial debut.
This film is centered around Sunny (Kuhoo Verma), a straight-laced Indian-American teen who, with her stoner Mexican-American friend (Victoria Moroles), seeks to get plan B after a regretful sexual encounter.
I am in my thirties, and I still feel a weak spot when movies like these have representation similar to mine. There are times we’re there, but it feels as if the idea of even touching on our culture is a sacred thing. We can be cute little sidekicks but never the main characters. There’s never a sign on how we sometimes stand with one foot in one culture and the foot on the other. American, but not American enough. Other, but never other enough.
This film does that without it being overbearing.
It’s not the most fantastic film ever made, but I felt a closer relationship to this film than with Booksmart.
In Plan B, we don’t get the visual of being a grand school. It’s average at best. The students are forced to watch an abstinence-only film during sex ed, left questioning why the woman was the centerpiece of it.
The houses aren’t extravagant. Both main characters are coming from single-parent households. Sunny’s dad is never mentioned, and Lupe’s mom has died, leaving her with her brothers and father, who is also a pastor. Their homes are realistic in setting (except for Lupe’s room, although it is pretty cool).
I believed it when they went into a not-so-great bowling alley to see a band. The exterior looks less than stellar, and the band isn’t that amazing. I believed the scene of Sunny going to get food with her crush Hunter (Michael Provost) wasn’t shiny and pretty. They didn’t sit there and make fun of everyone and say how horrible it was. They were focused on the moment and each other. How many diners had I sat in with my friends and forgetting to care? It just felt cool to be out.
I felt a close tie when Sunny and Lupe go to a house party, and it looks run down. I had these experiences as a teen, entering sketchy places with only your friend as your company. The world feels frightful, and you are small.
I think I love seeing these films or any media depicting female friendships because they can be so intense. The way Sunny and Lupe talk about each other, it’s pure in their loyalty and love. They want to see the world, they want to have all these experiences, but they want to do it together.
The ending is what got to me. Sunny cries, broken down from frustration because the Planned Parenthood they spent all night trying to get to is closed, and before that, they’d been rejected from getting plan b from the pharmacy due to conscious/religious reasons. She’s just a kid, and so is Lupe, who needs the adults to take over.
Viewing this film makes me hope that Natalie Morales continues on this path without being compared to others. She’s not following anyone else. She’s giving a path for BIPOC to follow.