Being pregnant most definitely seems to suck. But being with someone who is pregnant, seems to suck, too.
Samantha Abbott (Cobie Smulders) is coming at a bit of a crossroads in her life. Though she’s been a high school science teacher for quite some time, the school she currently teaches at is closing down, which means that in a few months, she’ll be without a job. Her dream job as a tour-guide in a museum looks to be opened-up for her, and while she would most definitely be jumping at the opportunity right away, she now has to deal with something else major in her life: Her pregnancy. Coincidentally, while Samantha finds out that she’s pregnant, a smart student of hers, Jasmine (Gail Bean), also does, too, and they end up spending a lot of time talking about pregnancy, what they want to do, and what’s next for them. Considering that Jasmine was one of Samantha’s more promising students, she takes it as her duty to make sure that Jasmine gets into a good college, while also still being able to keep the baby at the same time. Of course, life doesn’t always go as some expect it to, and this is where Jasmine and Samantha run into problems – sometimes separately, sometimes together.
Folks, it’s an old saying, but it’s a very true one: Never judge a book by its cover. If you look to your right, you’ll notice the utterly disastrous hack-job of a poster that is Unexpected‘s. While I’m pretty sure this movie had plenty of praise surrounding it early on, it’s hard to not wonder just what the hell the movie’s deal is: Is it bad, hence the terrible-y photo-shopped poster? Or, is it a good movie that didn’t care too much about advertising or anything like that, because they knew what they working with as is, was worth checking out? It’s definitely the latter, but lord almighty, that poster is terrible.
Anyway, aside from all of that, Unexpected is a pretty great movie and shows that it doesn’t matter what you have at your disposal, in terms of budget or scope – as long as your movie has a believable, breathing and human heart, then it’s all going to work out just fine.
And while some of you may be thinking, “Oh great, another pregnancy dramedy where characters act-out and piss people off all because they have a human growing inside of them,” I can assure you that co-writer/director Kris Swanberg is a whole heck of a lot smarter than that. Sure, some of the acting-out and pissing people off comes into display, but it doesn’t have much to do with the pregnancy, as much as it just has to do with the day-in, day-out frustrations with life itself. Rather than just focusing solely on the life event of pregnancy and all of the hell, as well as pleasure it can put people through, Swanberg uses the whole pregnancy angle to talk more about how people’s lives are affected when things don’t fully go their way.
Both Jasmine and Samantha have certain plans for their futures, but because of their respective pregnancies, they feel as if they not just have to put those plans on-hold for now, but for possibly ever. While Samantha may be all hell-bent on getting Jasmine into college and all settled-in, she seems to constantly forget that she’s got her own problems to deal with and is only just pushing them off, creating more problems of her own, and acting as if there’s nothing totally wrong with her own life or career, for that matter. This may make it sound like Samantha’s a mean, reprehensible character that needs to help out the young, African American kid, only to make herself feel more important, but that isn’t the truth. In a way, she’s a lot like most people; focus on other people’s problems as a way to forget about your own and eventually, they’ll just float away into space.
However, with pregnancy, the problem just doesn’t float away into space. If you decide to keep the baby growing inside of you, it’s a permanent job that will require a whole heck of a lot time, attention and dedication to keeping that creation of yours as happy and as fully-function as it can possibly be. While Unexpected focuses on this idea ever so slightly, it’s not the bulk of the film; wisely enough, it’s mostly about these characters growing up, learning more about life, as well as one another in ways that they never thought they would, had neither one gotten pregnant around the same time as the other had.
But don’t get worried, folks, as this isn’t the Blind Side for young women.
Nope, Swanberg, like I mentioned before, is a lot smarter than that and shows that while Samantha and Jasmine may get along over certain matters of life, in no way, fashion, or shape are they the same person. Sure, they may be going through the same problems in terms of pregnancy and how to handle it all, but when they step outside of that situation, they still have a lot of differences between the two. Rather than point this out and make it seem like a huge problem, the movie instead embraces that fact and shows how these two are willing to work past those differences and make something of an appropriate friendship.
And honestly, it works as well as it does due to the talents of both Cobie Smulders and Gail Bean. While I’ve never seen Bean before, I can easily say that she handles herself well in this role as Jasmine. Though there isn’t an awful lot of heavy-lifting for her to do here, she still blends right into this role as a young teenager who, above all else, just wants things to work out for her, her family, and her on-the-way-child. There’s a certain layer of innocence to her that makes this character all the more realistic and makes me feel that I’ll be seeing more of Bean in the future.
But really, it’s Cobie Smulders who really nails every beat of this movie and shows why exactly it is that she should just drop anymore TV or Marvel roles, and just stick to indie-dramas. With Results and this, Smulders has proven herself to be a very reliable actress when it comes to playing a character as realistic as humanly possible; without ever trying, Smulders makes us see every inch of who this Samantha character is. She may not always make the best decisions, but she still has a good enough heart within her that makes it easy to see the convictions of her actions, which at least makes her sympathetic. Of course Smulders is funny, but honestly, we’ve seen her be able to do that many, many times before and it’s not anything new or surprising.
Now, her sinking into a raw, dramatic-role? There’s something I very much want to see more of.
Consensus: Smart, endearing, and sweet, without ever trying to be too much of either, Unexpected is a small surprise of a film that proves why Smulders deserves more roles of this nature, as well as puts newcomer Gail Bean on our radar’s for the future.
8 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire