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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Unpregnant deals with the mature themes of pregnancy and abortion, but in an upbeat way aimed at a mature teen audience. Abortion is treated as a logical and valid option for a 17-year-old with other plans, and the procedure is described clinically and visualized step-by-step in one scene. Those who disagree with this option, especially activists who are portrayed as quite crazy in the film, aren't the target audience. The film suggests young people are meant to explore their sexuality and also have control over it. In introducing the pregnancy, we see Veronica peeing on a pregnancy stick and remembering the various times she and her boyfriend had sex (we see the places, hear some moaning, and glimpse him on top of her from the waist up). He admits a condom broke once and he hadn't told her, and Veronica decides to have an IUD inserted during the abortion procedure. Meanwhile, Bailey shares that she's a lesbian and discusses masturbating. She has her first kiss with a girl. There's a scene of teens drinking in the back of a pickup truck and some discussion of past smoking and drinking. Violence -- including a store owner pulling out a shotgun and a car driving over a cliff -- is mostly played for humor, which is the general tone of this film despite its premise. The teens use social media strategically to camouflage their whereabouts, find out information, or threaten each other. Language includes "s--t," "penis," "bone," "rawdog," "hell," "balls," and "oh my God," and there are glimpses of the middle finger.
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What's the story?
High schooler Veronica (Haley Lu Richardson) finds out she's pregnant in the opening scene of UNPREGNANT. A valedictorian contender with Ivy League dreams, Veronica hadn't planned on being a mother, though her somewhat clueless boyfriend keeps proposing they get married and start a family. Veronica's childhood friend, Bailey (Barbie Ferreira), happens into the bathroom and finds out Veronica's secret. Even though they haven't been friends in years, and the outspoken, nonconformist, overweight Bailey has become a bit of an outcast at school, Veronica has nowhere else to turn. Her gossipy popular friends aren't trustworthy, and her parents are strict anti-abortion Catholics. The problem is that women under 18 can't access abortions in Missouri without parental consent, and the closest place Veronica can access the procedure is Albuquerque. She calls on Bailey to help her, and the two set off on a secret and adventure-filled weekend trip to New Mexico.
Is it any good?
An energetic BFF road movie with pro-choice and feminist messages, this movie relies on some high school stereotypes and gender clichés, mostly about boys, but manages to resist predictability. Unpregnant lands a lot of laughs in the banter between Veronica and Bailey and their misadventures on the road, and the two lead actresses do a great job playing opposites with a convincingly shared history and a deep mutual affection. Both actresses credibly transition between comedy and drama throughout the film. Unpregnant is no Thelma and Louise, but a key car-over-a-cliff scene references the classic, as does the American Southwest setting, complete with wide-open spaces, long, straight roads, and dusty small towns populated by cowboys, county fairs, and conspiracy theorists.
This film aims for a much more upbeat tone than that classic, though there are some strong political messages here. The clinical, step-by-step description of an abortion procedure at the film's end aims to demystify the process. A pro-choice monologue laments the fact (and the film's premise) that a 17-year-old girl in present-day America should have to travel across several state lines to get an abortion on request without parental consent. That message, like two intense "pro-life" characters, a Mike and Karen Pence joke, and a coming-out plot twist, could turn some audiences off. It's more likely that the politics, the humor, and the generally youthful mood will all speak directly to this film's target audience.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the issue of abortion and why it's so politicized in this country and in Unpregnant. Do you believe a young woman should have access to an abortion without parental consent? Why or why not?
Have you ever fallen out of touch with a close friend the way Veronica and Bailey did? Do you think one of them was more responsible than the other?
What genre would you say this film is? Road movie, comedy, drama, buddy film, action film, or something else?
This film has some interesting secondary characters that the girls meet on their road trip. Which was most memorable to you, and how do you think that the character contributed to the story?
- On DVD or streaming: September 10, 2020
- Cast: Haley Lu Richardson, Barbie Ferreira, Giancarlo Esposito
- Director: Rachel Lee Goldenberg
- Studio: Berlanti Productions
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship, High School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: mature thematic content, sexual content, strong language and some drug references
- Last updated: September 23, 2020
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