Cast: Ashley Bratcher, Brooks Ryan, Robia Scott, Jared Lotz
Directors: Cary Solomon, Chuck Konzelman
I wasn’t expecting Pure Flix to take a stab at R-rated comedy this year, but they ended up with a movie that was honestly surprisingly funny. Sure it was a little unexpected based on their history, but anytime a studio experiments with something new and it lands I always appreciate it. What’s that? I’m getting a report that Unplanned actually isn’t a comedy but is indeed Pure Flix’s attempt at pro-life propaganda. Ok let’s get this over with. Apart from the usual horrific elements usually associated with Pure Flix movies like pitiful acting, sluggish pacing, and comical writing, this movie goes out of its way to promote false or misleading facts about Planned Parenthood to appeal to the already established opinions of its audience.
The film follows Abby Johnson (Bratcher), a pro-life college student who begins volunteering for Planned Parenthood under the impression that the organization helps reduce the amount of abortions. After volunteering, she eventually gets offered a full-time job with them and is eventually promoted to director of her clinic. When she helps conduct an abortion and has an extremely negative reaction to it, Abby resigns from her role and joins 40 Days for Life, a pro-life advocacy group with the intention of getting Planned Parenthood shut down. Starting off with the usual issues that all Pure Flix movies have, this movie doesn’t have someone to root for. It has a protagonist in Johnson, but as an outside viewer with a different perspective than the makers of this movie, nobody in this movie is likable. The, “villains,” are incredibly goofy and over-the-top and say and do things that any person with a sense of logic could figure out never happened. When one of the abortion doctors begins his operation by saying, “beam me up Scotty,” you know he never said that during this incredibly personal and difficult operation with the patient sitting inches away from him. It was there to emphasize how, “evil,” he is and how he has no remorse for his actions. Of the supposed heroes, it’s very obvious that they hate abortions more than they love Abby. Abby’s husband Doug (Ryan) openly mocks her and disapproves of her line of work while never providing any semblance of support for her. When Abby calls her parents up to tell them she quit her job, they were more excited about that than when they originally thought she was pregnant. Think about that for a second. Imagine hating an ideology more than you love your grandchild. That’s twisted on almost every level and really shows that this mindset has never come from a place of love. At least there’s an element of comedy to all of this, as Abby’s boss Cheryl (Scott) may be the best antagonist of the 21st century. It’s hilarious how the film tries to depict her as just this money-hungry abortion machine with no soul who’s willing to break every rule or law imaginable to get her way. The only character that is intentionally hilarious and it actually pays off is Johnson’s lawyer who nails the whole jokey TV lawyer-type who doesn’t have a prayer in beating these big-city corporate folks. He’s the only one that realizes this film is so melodramatic that it turns into a comedy and he embraces the comedic elements perfectly. Like in other Pure Flix movies, the actors are completely unprepared to handle a movie role, but the script gives them nothing to work with. There were multiple scenes where the characters were supposed to be having these super dramatic moments, but I ended up bursting out laughing. It’s hard to take a movie seriously when it falls victim to the usual conservative George Soros-bashing dog whistling just to drive home the point of how, “evil,” Planned Parenthood really is.
Speaking of which, since Planned Parenthood obviously had nothing to do with the making of this movie, I’m curious how Abby’s city has developed since the events of this movie. If you knew nothing about Planned Parenthood and only used this movie as evidence of what they are, you’d think that it was a privately funded mass abortion operation. The thing about this is that you can do independent research and see where they get their funding from and what they actually do with their budget. Most of their money is spent on non-abortion related activities such as STI testing and contraceptives. According to page 23 of Planned Parenthood’s budget from 2017, only 3.4% of their services are related to abortions, but this movie doesn’t care about that. In the eyes of Pure Flix and its viewers, any number above 0.0% means the company is evil and must be stopped. What I want to know is after Abby’s crusade in her city is what happened to the general health and wellbeing of her townspeople? What happened to the STI rate? What about the number of unwanted teen pregnancies? Number of cancer cases that could’ve been caught earlier? It’s very narrow-minded to think that if you close down Planned Parenthood that you can just dust off your hands and saw, “well my work here is done.” Shutting down an organization that you disagree with won’t solve the bigger issue at hand. Taking potentially life-saving resources away from people just because you think abortion is bad doesn’t make you a good person. The worst part is that companies like Pure Flix will never change their ways on this issue not because they believe in the moral high ground, but because they make money off of the ignorance of others. I thought Pure Flix had turned a corner last year when they made a few not-so-horrific films, but it looks like that was just a fad and they’re back to their manipulative ways.
Overall, Unplanned is bad. There’s no denying that. However if you view it from a comedic point-of-view and realize that this movie can’t influence anyone who doesn’t already believe these things, it’s honestly pretty funny. If you can get past the obscene amount of unnecessary gore and absolutely horrific writing, certain scenes provide some of the most unintentional comedy of the year. Pure Flix picked a hill to die on, and in the end, Unplanned is the only movie that should’ve been aborted this year.
Overall Score: 2.5/10