HBO Max’s coming-of-age road trip comedy “Unpregnant” hits a couple of bumps, but is an overall enjoyable trip.
Veronica, a pregnant 17-year-old, discovers she can’t get an abortion in Missouri without her parents’ consent. In attempt to hide her abortion, she travels with her friend, Bailey, to Albuquerque in order to get the procedure.
The film stars Haley Lu Richardson, Barbie Ferreira, Breckin Meyer and Giancarlo Esposito. It’s directed by Rachel Lee Goldenberg.
“Unpregnant” coasts off a great performance from Richardson and a challenging — but important — topic.
Richardson is the star. Her character of Veronica isn’t the type to draw attention to herself. Her modesty is put at odds with her change in reputation at school. Richardson does a great job in channeling the dichotomy of her character. In the process, she delivers a charming, sympathetic and empowering lead performance.
Ferreira’s performance was a mixed bag. While she does well in the dramatic scenes, her attempts at humor often were flailing. Her sense of comedic timing was annoying to me most of the time. Though she pulls her weight in the dramatic side of things, her comedic material didn’t work. Despite this, she is able to create a good dynamic with Richardson.
A major issue I had is that it often feels tone-deaf. There are many characters that are cartoonish-ly over-the-top for the sake of a joke. From Veronica’s stalker boyfriend, to a family of pro-life fanatics that kidnap the duo, hardly any of the characters feel real.
Esposito’s character is similarly unrealistic, but he at least delivers on the comedy. His dry comedic timing was enough for me to enjoy his performance.
The film ends with a gut-punching look at the struggles of abortion on a family level. Not everyone is in agreement on this issue, and the film doesn’t shy away from that. I appreciated that the filmmakers made a point to show how difficult it is to go through the process of getting an abortion. Not only is this showcased on an individual level, but also on a state government level.
Despite some wonky comedy from Ferreira and some flat-out unrealistic characters that don’t fit the film, “Unpregnant” offers more good than bad. Richardson is excellent in the film. She’s the main reason I’d recommend the film, aside from the topic the story revolves around.
I wish the film was more realistic in tone, but I’m appreciative that it will spread awareness and spark a discussion among viewers. For that, the film achieves its purpose. Richardson’s performance is definitely the icing on top.
I give “Unpregnant” 3.25 stars out of 5. “Unpregnant” is rated PG-13 and runs for 1 hour and 44 minutes. It’s available to stream on HBO Max.