I just finished watching the new movie Unplanned, about former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson and her harrowing transition from the backroom of one of the nations busiest abortion clinics and into the front lines of the pro-life movement. It’s still in its opening weekend, so if you want to show your strongest support for this movie, you can still see it Sunday night (3/31/19) in many theaters across the country.
It’s an important movie, with more harsh visuals and adult situations than you might expect from a PureFlix movie. It’s wasn’t rated R for nothing. Although it probably should have been rated PG-13, I don’t mind it’s harder rating. Abortion is bloody violence, so it’s perfectly fair to admit that fact in the form of a strong rating.
Is it any good?
Overall, this movie is well done. It sticks close to the book. I couldn’t find any variance from the key events in Abby Johnson’s biography (also titled “Unplanned”). The storyline and the acting were strong, with decent writing and humanizing characters who kept this movie from descending into a simplistic caricatures, except maybe the boss, Cheryl (Robia Scott). That character was an amalgam of several different administrators from the print version. The cinematography was straight-forward and unremarkable except perhaps for one chilling image of a woman lying on the bathroom floor post-abortion.
I’ve watched a lot of horror movies myself, so it takes a lot to scare me. But I was visibly disturbed watching an abortion procedure. Even though I knew it was CGI, and it wasn’t as graphic as it could have been it still haunts me because I know that those 1st-trimester abortions are the most common kind (about 660,000 every year).
Overall, this movie’s strong suit is not in one single element but in the total story itself. Abby Johnson has an exceptional and important story to tell. And it takes real courage to tell it. In this political climate, Hollywood actors would be crucifying their career if they have even a cameo in a pro-life film like this. And while this story is openly pro-life, it does not bash on pro-choice advocates or abortion clinics workers. This movie can help any open-minded viewer to see how abortion is wrong, but it may also help pro-lifers see Planned Parenthood employees in a better light.
But the music. . .
My only gripe is with the soundtrack. The music was all cookie-cutter styled CCM (Contemporary Christian Music). That means it’s cheesy, formulaic, overproduced, emotionally monotone, “inspirational” pop ballads. It’s like instead of developing a soundtrack that gave ambient color to the cinematography, or lent experiential voice to the storyline, it was nothing more than a showcase of pop Christians artists so the marketing department could snag free ad space on Christian radio.
Complaints from AHA
I can also see why several of the more radical anti-abortionists in my Facebook feed are upset by the movie. It’s a pro-life movie and not an abolitionist (Abolish Human Abortion) movie. In the book and in the movie, she is not impressed by the aggressive tactics of the more radical anti-abortionists. Since Abby Johnson speaks from experience deep inside the abortion industry, I value her insights into how pro-choicers perceive different anti-abortion efforts.
Not simply “us-vs-them”
The movie does a good job avoiding the simplistic villainization of pro-choicers, while admitting that some pro-choicers are explicitly and financially driven pro-abortionists. Meanwhile, we get to see and evaluate a wide range of anti-abortionists. There are quiet but loving pro-life family members, along with the outspoken yet prayer-driven Coalition for Life and 40 Days for Life. We see a report on the George Tiller shooting, by a lone-wolf “pro-lifer” (i.e., not representing anyone but himself). And we also see abolitionists and confrontational anti-abortions using graphic signs and grim reaper outfits.
Go see it for yourself
It’s pretty clear which anti-abortion methods worked best on Abby. But you’ll have to see the movie for yourself to appreciate just how she far she had to come to get away from the abortion industry. I recommend this movie to everyone who wants to see abortion reduced or eliminated in this country. I would also challenge any abortion-choice advocate (“Pro-choicer”) to see this movie to make sure they understand what exactly they are supporting. This movie does not “bash” on pro-choicers. It aims simply at abortion, exposing it for what it is. There’s no need to sling mud, distort, or lie about the abortion industry. Simply observing abortion and the abortion industry, without any filters, is a profound anti-abortion case all by itself.