Summertime is usually know for movies that contain multiple explosions per minute but sometimes those small independent films find their way to a theater near you and make your summer. Unexpected is one of these movies and like it’s title it’s an unforeseen treasure. Colbie Smulders stars as Samantha Abbott, a science teacher at a closing Chicago high school who finds out that she’s pregnant, while at the same time her star student Jasmine finds herself pregnant as well. What follows is surprising story of two women, from contrasting backgrounds and the struggles faced trying to bring children into the world.
Unexpected does a wonderful job of showing the unrealistic expectations that are on women these days. They are suppose to go to college, meet someone, have a career and find the perfect time to have a child. Samantha’s mother remarks that her having a child is happening all out of order, that she should have had a wedding first and then gotten pregnant. While at the same time chiding her for even considering being a stay at home mother. Luckily Samantha does have a supporting husband, John, who has the ability to support her if she decideds to stay home. What is heartbreaking is to see the struggle for Samantha to be able to admit that she does want to stay home, that it is ok for her to want to do that while her child is young. Her mother, later in the movie, reminds her of something quite poignant, that whether you work or stay home, either one is a sacrifice, but that being with your child is always rewarding.
The expectations that women face today many times leaves them in their 30’s before the thought of kids even enters the picture. And with the way society has fractured, so that families are smaller, organized religion is no longer providing community, many people find themselves alone when pregnancy hits. They don’t have friends that have children, they may not have grown up with siblings, so women find themselves woefully unprepared with no where to turn for guidance. Society has downplayed the importance of family and children so much that when people find themselves soon-to-be parents they have no experience from growing up or around them to draw upon and that leaves many feeling not joy but fear.
One of the most interesting things is the parallel of Jasmine with Samantha. Jasmine, from the outside seems to be behind the eight ball. She is from a poor neighborhood, has been raised by her grandmother after mother abandoned them because of drugs and is soon to be an unwed mother. Yet Jasmine is surrounded by a community to help her and because of that support she’ll be able to attend college in the city and be with her baby. Samantha spends so much of the movie trying to help Jasmine, when it is really Samantha that has no clue what to do. It becomes clear that nothing can replace community.
Hollywood is not particularly known for being overly pro-life in it’s films, yet Unexpected is. There’s a beautiful moment when Samantha and John are at the doctor’s office for their first ultrasound and she sees the heartbeat on screen for the first time and it becomes real to her, that there is a life inside her. It can be so easy to forget that since the baby is hidden, but as that window opens, so do her eyes to what’s truly happening; she carrying a human baby. Neither of these women planned for their pregnancy, yet each of them decides to do the best for that new life. John Lennon famously said that life is what happens when you are busy making other plans and that is exactly what happens to the characters in this film. Having a baby is never going to be convenient, but it is always going to be a blessing whether that’s to the biological parents or the adoptive parents.
Unexpected is a true summer gem. Seek it out, you won’t be disappointed. Colbie Smulders is fantastic as Samantha and Gail Bean as Jasmine will melt you heart. This movie, for it’s celebration of life, in all it’s messy glory is worth your support. Unexpected is rated 4 and a half sonogram heartbeats.