Two teenage girls go on a long drive. Hilarity ensues.
Veronica Clarke (Haley Lu Richardson) is a high-school junior who finds out that she’s pregnant and is caught with the positive test by her former friend, Bailey Butler (Barbie Ferreira). Bailey casually offers Veronica a ride to the clinic if she needs an abortion, but assumes that she will keep the pregnancy. Veronica decides to get an abortion, but discovers that she can only get one in Missouri with parental consent. Her parents are conservative, so she searches for the closest place that doesn’t require parental notification, which happens to be in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is nearly one-thousand miles away. She asks Bailey to help her drive there and along the way, they have to deal with local law enforcement, attractive bystanders (Betty Who and Denny Love), a conspiracy theorist (Giancarlo Esposito), a crazy religious couple (Breckin Meyer and Sugar Lyn Beard), and Veronica’s boyfriend Kevin (Alex MacNicoll), who didn’t tell her the condom broke and wants her to keep the pregnancy.
I’m sure that this film is naturally going to piss some people off since the motivation for the movie is aborting a pregnancy, but, honestly, most of the time it just serves as a macguffin to keep the film going. While the movie does have several scenes in which Veronica flat-out complains that the fact that the Missouri legislature (and most of the Midwest) being assholes has forced her into this situation, most of the film is focused on the journey and the relationship between Veronica and Bailey. As you might expect, when handling the actual abortion, the film is straight-forward and accurate about how to get an abortion and what it’s like to undergo the procedure. The film also tries to incidentally dispel many myths associated with abortion, mostly in the scenes with the religious couple who abduct Veronica to try and stop her.
Like I said before, though, most of the movie is just the kind of wacky road-trip hijinks that you would expect in a film featuring two people who have a strained history. Veronica’s family had forced her to stop associating with Bailey because of her weird interests, so they really hadn’t talked in a while before this incident. Bailey is openly gay, nerdy, and outspoken while Veronica is a stereotypical cheerleader from a conservative family. Many of the scenes are just them talking about their varied experiences and they’re pretty great. Both Richardson and Ferreira bring a lot of distinct characteristics to their characters and their chemistry is great. As the film goes on, they start to fall more into a natural rhythm as if they’re finding their friendship again and it really helps propel the film through some of the more farcical scenes.
The dialogue in the movie is solid, balancing awkward humor with serious subjects and it never feels like either diminishes the other. There are a number of great scenes in which the characters are having deep and sincere moments, only to follow them up with something ridiculous as a way to bring the film back into comedy.
Overall, this really is just a great road film. Recommend it highly.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.