Unexpected is an apt title for a movie about unplanned pregnancy, but what’s even more fitting is how unexpectedly endearing this movie is. It offers up a fairly simple story of a teacher and student whose life plans are altered by pregnancy, but it’s the lack of bells and whistles that makes the film so refreshing. It doesn’t exactly follow Syd Field’s formula for successful screenwriting, there is no false ending, no huge twist, no use of the word espionage…it’s just a nice story about two women at a shared moment in time.

Our Rating

Genre(s): Drama, Comedy

Director: Kris Swanberg

Actors: Cobie Smulders, Gail Bean, Anders Holm, Elizabeth McGovern

Year: 2015

MPAA Rating: R

Country: USA

When high school science teacher Samantha Abbott (Cobie Smulders) discovers she’s pregnant, the news doesn’t exactly inspire celebration. The timing is completely random and Samantha isn’t particularly settled in her life. The school where she teaches will close at the end of the year, and she’ll need to find a new job. She’s barely begun to consider her options, but it seems like a good opportunity to try something new. Though in a committed relationship with her partner, John (Anders Holm), they’re not married and the subject of children has never been seriously discussed. Kids are in the “sure, maybe someday” department, not “this is what we’ll do if that happens”. Unsurprisingly, a positive pregnancy test evokes plenty of tears, confusion, and anxiety.

Little by little, Samantha begins moving forward. John immediately pops the question, and the two are married in a quick city hall ceremony. Predictably, this upsets Samantha’s mother, who feels that things aren’t turning out how she dreamed. Well, duh. If anyone knows that it’s Samantha. And maybe Jasmine (Gail Bean).

Jasmine is a promising student in Samantha’s class who has also unexpectedly turned up pregnant. Not only do the two relate to the weirdness of impending motherhood, Samantha zeros in on the fact that, like her, Jasmine will have a hard time following through with her plans. She makes sure that Jasmine continues applying to colleges and for scholarships so that she will have as many options as possible, but for all her good intentions and well-meaning encouragement, Samantha doesn’t quite seem to grasp that a baby changes everything.

The bulk of the film focuses on the odd but charming friendship that develops between Samantha and Jasmine. There’s something pleasant watching these two ordinary women contend with issues that are at once monumental and mundane. The conflicts in the movie arise mainly from within. Does Samantha want to give up working and stay home with the baby? She keeps trying to answer the question without even knowing what it will feel like to be a parent. Meanwhile, Jasmine can’t see how she can pursue her dream without slighting her child. She knows too well what it’s like to have a mother whose priorities do not lie at home. Though neither Samantha nor Jasmine really know what they’re doing, somehow they manage to learn a great deal from each other.


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