Stillborn comedy Unpregnant is a mess of a movie, but succeeds as a piece of pro-abortion propaganda
Michael McCaffrey is a writer and cultural critic who lives in Los Angeles. His work can be read at RT, Counterpunch and at his website mpmacting.com/blog. He is also the host of the popular cinema podcast Looking California and Feeling Minnesota. Follow him on Twitter @MPMActingCo
This article contains spoilers for the film Unpregnant.
Last week was a good week if you crave poorly crafted movies designed to trigger culture war clashes, but a bad week if you’re a cinephile more interested in quality cinema than political posturing.
On September 9, Netflix gushed Cuties, the controversial French film that hypersexualizes 11-year-old girls, on to an unsuspecting and uncomfortable public.
The very next day, September 10, HBO Max picked up the gauntlet of inappropriateness and released Unpregnant, its teen girl, road trip, abortion buddy comedy.
Thankfully it is rated PG13, which means the scantily-clad, twerking 11-year-olds of Cuties only have a two-year wait before they can watch the movie version of the abortion handbook that is Unpregnant.
It is the story of Veronica (Haley Lu Richardson), a 17-year-old over-achiever in Missouri, who asks her misfit former friend Bailey (Barbie Ferreira) to give her a ride to New Mexico for an abortion.
Missouri and its surrounding states all have laws against minors getting abortions without parental consent, and Veronica is afraid to tell her ‘Jesus freak’ Catholic parents. So she needs to hit the road to the Land of Enchantment for the no-strings, underage abortion at the end of the rainbow.
In mythical girl power fashion, Veronica and Bailey’s journey is undertaken in a Pontiac Firebird, because like a phoenix, these girls will rise from the ashes of the patriarchal society that oppresses them… or something like that.
Unfortunately, Unpregnant is a painfully conventional and relentlessly dull film. It’s ironic that a movie burdened with such flaccid performances and impotent comedy should be about a pregnancy borne out of unrestrained virility.
The film’s dreadful script, which is in part written by Ted Caplan and Jenni Hendriks and is based upon their book of the same name, reads like the exposition Olympics, and Rachel Lee Goldenberg’s direction is abysmally amateurish.
Unpregnant wraps itself so tight in liberal political correctness it could pass for a social justice mummy. The movie has all the right heroes and heroines, and all the proper enemies to appease the woke faithful.
For instance, the film exerts a great deal of energy proving it isn’t racist by having every single black person in the movie be a wonderful ally to the abortion cause.
Yes, these black people, like Peg, the pawn shop owner with the heart of gold, Jarrod, the local cowboy with the heart of gold, and Bob, the apocalyptic conspiracist with the heart of gold, are all edgy and dangerous. But ultimately, due to their previously mentioned hearts of gold, they end up being kind and extremely helpful to Ivy League-bound, suburban white girl Veronica in her abortion quest.
And just in case viewers were confused about the cultural politics of the movie, there’s a superfluous lesbian romance thrown in too.
As for the villains, there’s Kevin, Veronica’s white, empty-headed yet controlling, stalker boyfriend, who intentionally failed to reveal the condom broke. Like all straight white men in Hollywood movies nowadays, Kevin is simply no good.
The most deplorable villains in the movie, though, are a family of pro-life, white Christians who are the personification of evil. This family is meant to represent the pro-life movement, as unsubtly indicated by the secret ‘pro-life’ room in their home, and by their mobile pregnancy and ultrasound equipped recreational vehicle, which they use to chase down Veronica and Bailey.
The sequence with the evil pro-life family is so farcical and tonally out of step with the rest of the movie, it feels like it is intentionally placed there for no other reason than to denigrate and inflame Christians.
Needlessly ridiculing Christians is not exactly a sound marketing strategy if, like Unpregnant, you are trying to make a popular movie and not some niche arthouse film. Proof of this is that Unpregnant currently has a 40 percent audience score at Rotten Tomatoes, which makes total sense since 65 percent of Americans identify as Christian.Also on rt.com Netflix’s ‘Cuties’ not only exploits young girls, it exposes liberal film critics spoiling for a culture war fight
The film does currently boast an 85 percent critical score at Rotten Tomatoes, but I think that has everything to do with it being a shameless advertisement for abortion and a woke utopian wet dream of anti-Christianity for establishment liberals, rather than any honest analysis of its artistic or entertainment merits.
As a cinematic venture, as a comedy and as a piece of entertainment, Unpregnant fails miserably, but as a piece of agitprop that normalizes abortion, which I believe is the movie’s ultimate intention, it thoroughly succeeds.
Abortion in Unpregnant is depicted as a gateway to freedom and truth and an undeniable good. Abortion is portrayed as this wondrous and physically, mentally and emotionally painless procedure that leaves girls emphatically relieved and joyously buoyant in its wake. As post-abortion Veronica sums up to her mother at the movie’s end, “I don’t feel bad…”
I’m glad someone didn’t feel bad at the end of the movie, because I sure did, and not because of Unpregnant’s political stance on the complex issue of abortion, or its ham-handed cultural politics, but because it is an unfunny, cliché-ridden, mess of a movie that is poorly written, acted and directed.
In conclusion, Unpregnant is a stillborn cinematic dud that should have taken its own advice and aborted itself in the first trimester of its creative process.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.