A painfully awkward sexual encounter. An improvised road trip. A proven friendship. No, the main lines of Natalie Morales’ âPlan Bâ are not revolutionary. It’s the tried and true setting of high school comedy. But comedies for teenagers, almost as a rule, are made by their protagonists. And with Kuhoo Verma and Victoria Moroles, âPlan Bâ is largely a winner.
Morales’s film seems destined to be compared to Olivia Wilde’s âBooksmart,â which hit theaters almost exactly two years ago. been a familiar face in film and television for the past 15 years.) Both present a pair of groundbreaking performances, and both bring a funny, feminist twist to a traditionally childish and often boorish genre of film.
But it surprised me to watch “Plan B” how its own thing. It has a rhythm and a comedic perspective all its own. And while most teen comedies have turned to crowded movie theaters, âPlan Bâ – more scruffy indie, more R-rated – only comes to streaming. (He debuts Friday on Hulu) It is therefore normal that the characters of “Plan B” offer us a new sentence in the lexicon of streaming which can coexist with “Netflix and chill”: “Disney-plus and push”.
Verma, who played a small role in “The Big Sick,” stars as Sunny, the high-achieving, low-self-esteem daughter of discerning Indian parents. Her best friend Lupe (Moroles, from MTV’s “Teen Wolf” and Disney Channel’s “Liv and Maddie”) is more in control of her than most adults. But her brash style and two-tone hair is regularly ridiculed by her more conservative father. Sunny and Lupe are both strangers in a small town in South Dakota where their ethnicities are only vaguely understood. Most of the time, they don’t care. When a boy, intending a compliment, tells “Verma” that she has “all this stuff with Princess Jasmine”, she sheepishly notes that this is the wrong ethnic group, but “he’s kind of the closest princess we’ve got, so I’ll take him.”
The witty script, by Prathi Srinivasan and Joshua Levy, is best in the first half of the film, largely taking place around high school and, as the genre laws dictate, at a party hosted by Sunny. when his parents are away. If you think you’ve seen enough sex education scenes before, you’ll want to make an exception for one with Rachel Dratch as an uncontrollable, helpless teacher when her students take a car metaphor for virginity and run with it. The party scene also has its tropes (a poorly put together punch) and unique touches. Sunny, feeling rejected by her crush (played by Michael Provost), ends up in the bathroom instead with Kyle (Mason Cook), a sincere child who is both magical and Jesus – and Sunny about the person. the most regrettable of South Dakota for losing her virginity to.
The next morning, panic sets in and Sunny needs a morning after pill. Yet when Lupe (speaking on behalf of the all too ashamed Sunny) asks the pharmacist (Jay Chandrasekhar, the comedic director-actor of “Super Troopers”), he declines on the basis of the state’s “conscience clause” which gives pharmacists have a right of refusal on the grounds of religious beliefs.
Here, “Plan B” does not get sober, in any case. There are still scenes to come involving a drug trafficker’s pierced penis, an accidental dose of speed and a stolen car. But the film’s inherent setup is, like the comedic equivalent of “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” a poignant commentary on the barriers to abortion. Sunny and Lupe drive Sunny’s mom’s Honda minivan to a Planned Parenthood in Rapid City, a three-hour trip that becomes longer and more surreal than most Dakota rides. Here, “Plan B” sometimes goes off course, but all their adventures are a reminder why the conquests typical of teenage comedy are more complicated for young women.
But âPlan Bâ never becomes didactic. Like the “Plan B” message, there is no substitute for just letting these two characters – traditionally bitten actors at best in high school comedies – be themselves. They are the most authentic 17-year-olds seen in the cinema recently, which is most certainly due to two up-and-coming stars in Verma and Moroles. Verma, is remarkably natural and moving, while the good-natured Moroles struts through the film like a creature in her own right. It will even convince you that Christian trap music can be rock.
âPlan B,â a version of Hulu, is not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America, but contains language and sexual material that would suggest an R rating. Length: 108 minutes. Three out of four stars.
Follow AP Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP