Trust and Bonding in Albuquerque: How Unpregnant Hijacks the Road Trip Comedy

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There’s an immediate rather visceral reactions for Americans when they hear the words “road trip”. Most think of driving great distances cross country; of small towns and different environments. There is nothing but a long road in front of them and their home town behind them. A trip to an unknown world. A trip with friends where there’s nothing to do but eat junk food, listen to long curated playlists, and get deep together. It’s a nostalgic and rather young sort of idea that’s glamorized and has been romanticized since Kerouac, and this romanticism of the friendship road trip has long been a topic in films. So much so it’s become its own genre.

Its beginnings are seen through the ages, because the story comes from some of the classic framework with which stories have been told. It’s a hero’s journey. It’s normal immediately being turned on its head and a person having to go on the road to a distant land and reach a goal an objective. It’s the basis for most stories we know and love with road trip movies being their own sort of subtopic of this story structure. So with that said, with something so universally recognized, why has it taken so long to have girls at the helm of the story?

Unpregnant follows two childhood best friends Veronica and Bailey who drifted apart as they reconnect and travel from Missouri to Albuquerque New Mexico in order for Veronica to get an abortion of an unplanned pregnancy without her parents finding out. The film follows the basic premise of any road trip film ever, but the most refreshing aspects are the fact that these two girls are leading the charge and leading it with something so radically feminine in nature.

Haley Lu Richardson and Barbie Ferreira give incredibly layered performances of young women who have both gone through a lot, with and without each other. Richardson delivers the perfect-adjacent ivy league bound Veronica teeth and a sort of simmering anger that isn’t often found and it brings the sort of stereotypical sort of character to a really human place. Barbie Ferreira’s Bailey is written as a character who is larger than life, all on their own, and it’s an interesting departure from Ferreira’s well-known role of Kat Hernandez in Euphoria who grows into her own confidence. Bailey eats the sky all on her own and Barbie Ferreira does it as well to make sure Bailey can as well.

The film follows the road trip story structure to a tee with all the usual hijinks. You get gas station stops, quirky and ultra-specific side characters, a ships passing in the night moment of romance, and unforeseen but overall humorous instead of frightening peril. They even reference Thelma and Louise but the script can occasionally lend itself to a sort of “afterschool special” kind of dialogue. However, this can be forgiven because it’s obvious the reason these moments are there is because it’s being used for de-stigmatizing and removing the fear around abortions. It was refreshing to see an abortion that didn’t feature the doctor in some clinical setting with oppressive lighting where the audience can feel the weight of a decision that’s still the best for the woman getting the procedure.

For what it’s worth, seeing a funny film with strong and confident and smart and witty women at the forefront of a genre that can be considered something of a boy’s club was a wonderful experience during a rather crumby time. I even asked my family for some of their favorite comedic road trip or even just road trip movies, and the only one where women were in the leading roles (and not a mom, or annoying little sister, or sexy as hell love interest to a male protagonist) was Thelma and Louise. Just think about that for a moment. Thelma and Louise was made in 1991. Brad Pitt still had long hair. Don’t get me wrong he’s just as hot then as he is now, but that’s not the point. What I’m trying to convey is, that, while woman can have seminal road trip films (we should have more but again, not the point of this article) , there shouldn’t be just one, and it should be a genre that’s updated every once in a while with films that are prevalent for future generations, and Unpregnant does that perfectly.

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Olivia Hrko

Olivia Hrko

She/Her. Bio in progress

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