(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
LINDA HOLMES, HOST:
The new movie "Plan B" is about best friends Sunny and Lupe who go on an emergency road trip. They're not on the run from criminals or some terrible misunderstanding; they're trying to get to a Planned Parenthood office to get a morning-after pill for Sunny. The girls have a long night of crazy adventures and heartfelt conversations, and it's a really good mix of silly and honest and unexpected. I'm Linda Holmes, and we're talking about "Plan B" on today's POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR from NPR, so don't go away.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
HOLMES: Welcome back. Joining me from her home in Brooklyn is Daisy Rosario. She's an executive producer at Stitcher, with the show "Celebrity Book Club With Chelsea Devantez." It's in its first season right now. Hey, Daisy.
DAISY ROSARIO: Hey. How's it going, Linda?
HOLMES: I am so delighted that you could be here to talk about this movie with me. So "Plan B," which is on Hulu, was directed by Natalie Morales, who you might know as an actor in things like "The Middleman" and "Parks And Recreation," where she played Tom's girlfriend Lucy. It was written by the team of Joshua Levy and Prathi Srinivasan, who are longtime friends and collaborators. Kuhoo Verma plays Sunny, and Victoria Moroles plays Lupe.
There's a lot going on at the beginning of this movie. Sunny is interested in a guy named Hunter. Lupe is interested in a musician named Logan, who she only knows from online. And Sunny is hosting a party. During the party, Sunny has sex, and after she has a birth-control mishap, she and Lupe go to a pharmacy to get her a Plan B pill. The pharmacist says, no, he doesn't believe in her getting it because she's 17, so he won't give it to her. He explains that South Dakota law allows him to refuse. Realizing that they could run into this problem at pharmacy after pharmacy, Sunny and Lupe decide to try to get to a Planned Parenthood office in Rapid City.
It's a pretty serious setup, but the movie is very funny, and it has a lot of the energy and the silliness of a lot of other out-all-night teenager movies once it gets going. Daisy, what did you think?
ROSARIO: Oh, man, I just really enjoyed this movie. When I wasn't belly-laughing, I was just grinning. I don't know that there was really any point in this movie where I wasn't just enjoying myself - just felt like such a breath of fresh air, for lack of a better way of putting it.
HOLMES: Yeah, I felt the same way. You know, it is a really - as I mentioned, it is a really funny movie, right? And it's a - what I would think of as an R-rated movie. Technically, because it's on Hulu, it's TV-MA...
ROSARIO: Yes (laughter).
HOLMES: ...Which is mostly - I have no idea what the influence of the - kind of the setup and the story has on that. I suspect that the comedy - some of the comedy is sort of raunchy teenager comedy, which would have gotten it probably that rating anyway.
HOLMES: But it is a sort of a fun out-all-night movie that is underlaid by this really serious story. And that is so hard to do, I think.
ROSARIO: I think it's something that's hard to do, but I'm also just - I'm a huge fan and proponent of it. Like, I'm just very much someone who - I want to see more reality, even in my funny things. And some of that means that, like - to me, what I mean about reality is just, like, life is absurd, and you can find yourself in really absurd situations very quickly. And sometimes something deeply funny happens while you are in the midst of something absolutely terrible.
ROSARIO: So, you know, again, this is a raunchy teen comedy with, you know, a serious undertone in terms of what they're actually going after. But the fact that it doesn't seem to worry about that...
ROSARIO: It just kind of confidently goes, hey, like, we're going to do all this really fun, goofy, raunchy comedy stuff that you would normally enjoy, but they're going to stick to the logic of what's happening. They respect what's happening the entire time.
HOLMES: Right. Right.
ROSARIO: But never in a way that feels cheap or forced. I mean, it's just a really fantastic balancing act. And I was so pleasantly surprised to see that it was directed by Natalie Morales.
HOLMES: Yeah, me too. She has another movie called "Language Lessons" that she made with Mark Duplass.
HOLMES: And it's gotten extremely, extremely good early festival reviews. It's coming out later this year. She's really sort of, I think, pushing into directing in a way that's going to be really, really cool to watch. I've long been a big fan of hers, and she's, I think, at this really exciting and cool point. And as I mentioned, these writers have known each other, apparently, since at least high school, maybe earlier. They have been a long, longtime collaborators - worked on "iZombie." And this is, like, high school friends writing a high school movie...
ROSARIO: Yeah (laughter).
HOLMES: ...Which is such a cool dream that so many people have. I don't think it's been super common to write movies about sort of - whether it's emergency contraception or abortion, things like that. It has not been super common to incorporate those things into Hollywood films. There have started to be a few. There was another film called "Unpregnant," which has...
HOLMES: ...A sort of a similar - friends trying to solve a related problem. But one of the things that I really liked about it, I got to say, is it has a frankness, and also, it still is funny about it.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PLAN B")
KUHOO VERMA: (As Sunny) I could get pregnant. My mom's going to kill me, and then she's going to kill herself, and it's going to be a murder-suicide. And my head is killing me. That could be TMF. Lupe, that could toxic shock syndrome. I've never even put a tampon inside me. It has carcinogens.
VICTORIA MOROLES: (As Lupe) It's OK. It's OK. It's all right, all right? Your headache is probably just from a hangover, all right? So let's go to the pharmacy, get you some aspirin and the Plan B pill - just in case.
VERMA: (As Sunny) Is there an alternative?
MOROLES: (As Lupe) You mean a plan B?
HOLMES: The birth control sort of issue that Sunny has is very believable to me...
HOLMES: ...Especially for a kid who does not have a really extensive and full sex-ed sort of backdrop.
HOLMES: So they're using birth control but not necessarily well. I think it's clear that neither of these kids have talked about birth control with their parents very much. So it's a believable way of setting this problem up that stays honest to what I think this kid in this situation might be dealing with. And I love the fact that it has that frankness about sex and birth control that, I think, for such a long time was so, so rare.
ROSARIO: Oh, my gosh, yes. And I mean, I agree with you 100% on that. I think these two main characters, these two young women that we're following, like, they feel of the now.
ROSARIO: They feel like kids who grew up with the internet. So it's not - we're not in some space where we're playing dumb about something because they would have access. Like, it actually just feels very balanced between...
ROSARIO: ...The things that they would know and the things that they would maybe not know as much or have access to the nuance of because of family dynamics, relationships that are set up really well.
ROSARIO: I feel like sometimes you have to kind of play dumb and go like, why wouldn't that person have Googled that thing or looked it up?
HOLMES: Exactly. Exactly.
ROSARIO: And all of that is justified, and all of it makes sense, but again, it doesn't feel heavy-handed. It doesn't feel forced. It doesn't feel like they're making sure that we go through these motions. Like, it's actually just fun and irreverent along the way, while never dropping those beats, which is just a fantastic tightrope walk to pull off.
HOLMES: Yeah, I agree. And, you know, so often if you have a film where there is either a pregnancy scare or a pregnancy from a character who you would think would be using birth control, the way they get around it will be really kind of unbelievable. And in "Knocked Up," it's sort of not believable.
HOLMES: And if it was believable, it would be really gross and upsetting. This one is a lot more like, yeah, they're teenagers. They're inexperienced. You know, this is the kind of thing that can happen. And that's what makes her go out and need this particular help. But I also just - I love these performances.
ROSARIO: Oh, man.
HOLMES: These actors are both in their 20s, but I was really surprised to find that out because they both are such believable teenagers to me.
ROSARIO: (Laughter) Absolutely. I mean, look; I'm not a parent of a teenager, but I have a sister who's a teenager. I've got plenty of cousins who are teenagers. And they did; they felt so real - not just in their performances, but just even in the writing. I mean, going back to - you were saying that the writers are real-life friends from, you know, being that age, and I think that comes through in this movie the same way I think it comes through really well in, like, "Superbad."
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PLAN B")
VERMA: (As Sunny) Look at (ph) Hunter. I just cleaned my pants (ph). Who plays hockey in a cardigan? He's like an athletic librarian.
MOROLES: (As Lupe) I totally do not understand the attraction. I mean, he's, like, cute. But he's got major guidance counselor vibes.
VERMA: (As Sunny) Yeah.
MOROLES: (As Lupe) Well, maybe you should invite him over for a little Disney+ and thrust, huh? He can bang you doggy style while you watch "Lady And The Tramp."
VERMA: (As Sunny) How would we do the pasta thing if he's behind me?
ROSARIO: Yeah, I mean, it's just so unapologetic about the fact that these two leads are these characters who are, you know, young brown women who come from immigrant families. Like, it puts it there, but it also, again, doesn't do anything where it's like, hey, guys, you should really be OK with these people.
ROSARIO: Like, it just shows them as very straightforward people. There's a couple of passing comments that they respond to that seem very realistic, as someone who's, you know, experienced an ongoing billion of microaggressions throughout my life. And those things happen to them, and they keep going. They react to it in real time, but they also keep going because that's what really happens. And so in this movie where they're going through such hilariously absurd situations - because, again, it is this kind of out-all-night teen-movie situation...
ROSARIO: ...There's just such a grounding to it...
ROSARIO: ...That feels so honest that, then, I believe all of those situations in hilarious ways.
HOLMES: Yeah. Well, and some of the sort of seriousness with which they take the topic is they managed to cross up with the funny, crazy situations. For example, there's a scene that I found really funny where they wind up talking to a guy on, like, a playground in the middle of the night...
ROSARIO: (Laughter) Yes.
HOLMES: ...Who's selling random pills out of a toolbox or a tackle box.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PLAN B")
VERMA: (As Sunny) Yeah. OK, that could be anything.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) No, girl. It's the pill. Or it's speed. There's, like, a really small chance it might be PCP. No, it's the pill. [Expletive] - you had me scared. It's one-hundo (ph).
VERMA: (As Sunny) No. What? No, no. I'm not paying for an unmarked pill. That's probably PCP. No.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Really small chance it's PCP.
HOLMES: On the one hand, it's such a funny scene, and their reactions to, like, is this something I should do...
HOLMES: ...Or is this not something I should do - are very funny. The guy is creepy and sort of atypical. Like, you do not want to get mixed up with this person in the middle of the night. But at the same time, there's this undercurrent of, like - this is one of the things that happens, you know, sometimes, too, somebody who's in this situation cannot get what she needs through a pharmacy.
HOLMES: So it has this ability to kind of navigate those complicated - on the one hand, it's so funny, and on the other hand, it's really reminding you of the severity of this situation. And I also want to mention - look; there's a whole story that involves Lupe's love interest, Logan, that I was so delighted by that I don't want to talk about it because I was so delighted by it, and it's such a good story.
HOLMES: And I know you and I talked about this a little bit before we taped, and I know you feel similarly.
HOLMES: But just suffice it to say, Lupe also has, I think, a really good and really satisfying story. You know, this is not just Sunny and Sunny's best friend; it is a friendship between these two young women. And really, in a lot of ways, it's a love story about their friendship and how committed they are to each other.
ROSARIO: I mean, everyone just feels cared for in a way. Like, all the characters, I feel like, even the ones that are supposed to be goofy, are really treated with a level of, like, respect and humanity.
HOLMES: Oh, yeah.
ROSARIO: And to say that almost makes it sound dry, but to me, that's part of what makes the rest of the comedy really pop and work, is that I get where it's coming from.
ROSARIO: So I actually watched this movie - usually I, you know, watch things that I'm watching for POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR alone. But this movie, because of the title, I actually said to my partner - I was like, hey, do you want to watch this one with me? Because she works in women's reproductive health.
HOLMES: Oh, wow.
ROSARIO: So not only did I enjoy watching the movie, but this was hilarious to then see her reaction and, like, hear her laugh really hard. And there was a couple of moments, especially in that scene in the playground, where she laughs so hard in a way that just also makes me go, wow, they did their research.
HOLMES: Yeah. Yeah.
ROSARIO: So - but, I mean - yeah, I mean, that's the thing. Just that - even the characters that maybe you don't get to know as well or that we're supposed to feel tension with, there is some respect for them being people and not just...
HOLMES: Of course.
ROSARIO: ...A character that kind of shows up to make something happen for somebody. I feel like raunch, then, is so much more fun when I'm relaxed about the rest of it...
ROSARIO: ...Because I know that you're still treating people as people.
HOLMES: Well, so much of raunchy comedy is mean.
HOLMES: And this is never mean to anyone. And that includes, you know, Lupe's dad, Sunny's mom. Sunny's mom, to me, is such a surprising character...
HOLMES: ...In such a great, great way. Boy, I loved this one. And again, it is on Hulu. I strongly recommend that you seek it out. And I am so glad that they made it. And I do have a full review of it on npr.org that you can check out if you are interested in that. And we want to know what you think about "Plan B." Find us at facebook.com/pchh and on Twitter at @pchh. That brings us to the end of our show. Thank you so much, Daisy, for being here. This was a delight.
ROSARIO: Oh, thank you. I'm so glad I watched this movie. I'm going to be talking about it until everyone I know has seen it.
HOLMES: Yeah, me too. And of course, thank you for listening to POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR from NPR. If you have a second and you're so inclined, subscribe to our newsletter. It's at npr.org/popculturenewsletter. We will see you tomorrow.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.