The top movies this weekend were Dumbo ($46 million), Us ($33 million), and Captain Marvel ($21 million), but did you know that just below that was an anti-abortion screed based on a discredited memoir partially financed by a Trump-loving pillow magnate?
“Faith-based” production house Pure Flix has seen their profits from individual movies fall slightly (as evidenced by respective lifetime grosses of God’s Not Dead 1, 2, and 3 declining from $60 million to $20 million to $5 million), perhaps as their message became slightly less divisive. Unplanned, written and directed by the God’s Not Dead 2 team of Chuck Konzelman and Cary Solomon, and financed by the CEO of MyPillow (a self-described born again former crack addict) seems to be an attempt to get back to PureFlix’s roots, with a full-throated takedown of the usual religious right bogeymen — Planned Parenthood, Bill Gates, and (((George Soros))). It’s based on the memoir of a white woman who had two abortions before deciding no one else could have one and helped get the Planned Parenthood where she worked get shut down.
The divisiveness seems to be working. The film earned back its $6 million budget in its opening weekend and, according to one reviewer, “The crowd loudly applauded every time Planned Parenthood got its comeuppance onscreen, and laughed every time the pro-life activists in the story got doused with garden sprinklers and good-naturedly brushed it off like a prank.”
God knows I was curious. But I’ve already earned my purple heart for injuries suffered from Pure Flix movies watched in the line of movie reviewing. Unplanned seemed like a perfect opportunity for Plot Recreated with Reviews, where we attempt to piece together an entire movie using only expository quotes from reviews. Because some movies are much better heard than seen.
The Set Up
Narrated non-stop by its lead character, who promises you an uncomfortable experience (she’s right, but not necessarily for the reasons she implies), Unplanned is the story of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood employee who began as pro-life, became pro-choice in college, volunteered for Planned Parenthood, became her clinic’s employee of the year in 2008, then changed her beliefs back to pro-life. [Forbes].
“My story isn’t a neat and tidy one,” says Johnson (played by Ashley Bratcher), one of several disclaimers she offers up front. [Detroit News]
The movie then flashes back eight years, and we witness several incidents that escalate in calamity: Abby’s first abortion (the result of a relationship with an older lout in her apartment building), then her second (after she marries and divorces the bum), induced with the RU-486 pill, which a woman at the clinic tells her will make it easy, with just some “light” bleeding. Instead, after ingesting the pill, Abby thinks she’s dying, as she’s wracked by excruciating pain and the bleeding turns out to be anything but light. [Variety]
Abby is drawn to Planned Parenthood at a college recruitment drive for its women’s health services [The Guardian]
…where a Planned Parenthood representative convinces Abby that the organization is all about reducing the number of abortions. [Variety]
It’s through Abby, the wide-eyed volunteer-turned-administrator looking to “keep abortion rare” that Unplanned gets us inside the demonic, bloodstained halls of America’s most heinous baby-killing factory. (One which the film says, and I swear I’m not making this up, is “backed by Soros”.) [The Guardian]
(“We discovered someone has cancer today!” is a weirdly cheery line in this film.) [The Guardian]
Cheryl, (played by Robia Scott, who early in her show business career danced the part of Pearl in Prince’s Diamonds and Pearls tour and is now, according to her bio, engaged in full-time ministry) [THR], whose rudeness is a dead giveaway that she just wants to harvest fetuses [AV Club], promotes Abby because she doesn’t cry upon first examining the remains of an aborted fetus. [THR]
When one young woman experiences a medical emergency, [Cheryl] makes sure that enough drugs are pumped into her that she won’t remember a thing. [THR]
“Abortion is what pays your salary!” Cheryl snaps, reminding Abby that “nonprofit is a tax status, not a business model.” [THR]
When Johnson protests that the goal of the organization should be to make the procedure as rare as possible, Cheryl [THR], who shows Abby aborted fetuses as if revealing the lost Ark, an evil grin fixed on her face [AV Club] delivers a speech comparing abortions to the high-profit “fries and soda” sold by hamburger joints. [THR]
“Fast-food outlets break even on their hamburgers. The french fries and soda are the low-cost, high-margin items. Abortion is our fries and soda!” If Abby wants to keep her 401K and health benefits, she’s gotta keep the abortions coming at all costs! [The Guardian]