Natalie Morales’s Plan B is a stellar comedy about two girls reeling from a high school party and learning about one another along the way, giving a showcase for young actors up to the task.
Mirroring themes and moments from other high school films like Superbad, Booksmart, and Unpregnant, Natalie Morales’s Plan B starts like most in the genre: with a (somewhat) massive party. And like those other movies, the raunchy road trip comedy revolves around best friends, two girls that want more out of their high school experience, more out of the finale of these four years that are the lead-up to what many folks call “the best years of your life.” It devolves into more than a one-night affair, as the girls embark on a weekend-long attempt to find the morning-after pill as 17-year-olds looking for someone to sell them what they need.
Plan B announces the arrival of faces and names that should become mainstays, with Morales directing her second feature in under a year, alongside the already-acclaimed Language Lessons. Written by Joshua Levy and Prathiksha Srinivasan, the film stars Kuhoo Verma as Sunny and Victoria Moroles as Lupe, who both give fantastic comedic performances, with Verma shining brighter with each passing scene. The film acts as a conduit for talented people that deserve the stage and the spotlight.
Early on, the film gains comedic traction with Rachel Dratch as a sex-ed teacher while Edi Patterson injects more life into the film halfway through as a gas attendant. Morales and her team brought funny, quirky actors for bit parts, and it works wonders to watch Verma and Moroles play off more seasoned comedians.
Still, at its core, Plan B revolves around friendship, a changing relationship between Sunny and Lupe, girls that still hold secrets from one another. It’s unnerving to reveal the fullest nature of yourself to another person at any age. It’s even harder when you haven’t even turned 18, as you figure out the ins and outs of who you are. The script gives space to each girl, even though this story’s driven forward by Sunny’s initial decision to throw a party and subsequently, drunkenly lose her virginity to someone she feels little towards. Plan B allows these two young characters the opportunity to breathe, to develop while they’re together and while they’re apart.
Set in South Dakota, pharmacists can deny the morning-after pill to those under 18 years of age, causing the girls to drive to the nearest Planned Parenthood in search of a drug that will put Sunny’s mind at ease. She had sex with the wrong guy, with an uber-Christian kid who has immediate regret, as her crush, Hunter (Michael Provost), drove off with the popular, rich cheerleader. But she sees Hunter again and he’s pure kindness, as the girls attend a concert at a bowling alley, spending time with their hopeful significant others. Plan B should be added to the general high school movie canon, but more importantly, it should be highlighted for its use of a fake band, Rancid Tofu, which Lupe’s, Logan, plays in. Put them up against Sex Bob-omb in a Battle of the Bands, please.
After the concert, Sunny and Lupe find out truths about one another that only push them apart momentarily, as they’re more concerned about the keeping of the secrets than the secrets themselves. Morales and her team also understand the oddity of virtual relationships, of meeting someone new after already talking to them for weeks, of the expectations we give these meetings, and the stories we tell to get ourselves excited or soften the blow.
And everyone is understanding through this stretch, much like the film itself, pushing forward empathy and connection in every scene, as they all come to an understanding: being 17 is still really tough. Friendships never seem in doubt, and parents even enter the fray in the third act, showing that love outweighs difference and youthful decision-making. Often, as two characters learn of each other’s actualities, these films find a way to split up best friends. But in reality, and in Plan B, there’s no reason for that. Morales keeps these girls together, for better or worse, plastering a smile onto your face as they slip in mud, accidentally do drugs, or just drive into the middle of nowhere.
Instead of the film ending in a bang, it opts for simple sweetness, the love being shown between friends and family, an apt way to cap off a movie filled with raunchiness. Directed with an assured comedic and sensitive lens, Natalie Morales arrives as someone deserving of bigger budgets and Plan B signals the arrival of Verma and Moroles to a wider audience, who should welcome them with open arms. Even if they’re just high schoolers, they’d invite us to the party and certainly do the same.