Pregnancy can often bring immense joy to a family, as soon-to-be parents prepare to bring their progeny into the world. On the flip side, an unexpected pregnancy can bring intense anxiety and emotions into potentially strained relationships. Of course, cynics might argue that the unforeseen pregnancies in our society have the potential to overwhelm us, especially if those who want to become pregnant cannot. At least, that’s the idea movies like Idiocracy (2006) have promoted. In any case, the surprise of an unexpected pregnancy can be solved in many ways. Many unwanted pregnancies are aborted, but there are also options for adoption, as well as keeping the baby. Whatever ends up happening, these pregnancies are usually monumental moments in people’s lives and will change them from then on out. This week’s two films highlight some unexpected pregnancies.
Children of Men
Length: 109 minutes / 1.82 hours
With the birth rates in many developed countries dropping lower every year, pregnancies are becoming more and more unexpected. When pregnancies are no longer the norm, fear sets in and society crumbles. The entirety of civilization hinges on whether or not a population can replenish itself over time. Even certain “gaps” in generations where there aren’t as many births can affect the economy as they age through their developmental, career, and retirement life stages. If we take these ideas to the extreme and imagine a world where it’s been 18 years since the last birth, the introduction of an unexpected pregnancy could be a world-changing event. While we are far from such a scenario, this is precisely the plot presented in the dystopian film, Children of Men (2006).
Due to several factors, humanity hasn’t had a new birth in almost two decades. Added to this is the fact that many—if not most—children died from disease just before the shortage of births. These problems have put the whole world on edge, and for a good reason. Many individuals, like Theo Faron (Clive Owen), have become cynical, merely waiting for their inevitable deaths and the end of civilization. In exchange for a lot of money, Theo agrees to escort a refugee to safety since the United Kingdom is violently strict when it comes to immigrants. The refugee, Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey) reveals to Theo that she is pregnant with the world’s first baby in 18 years. Such a fantastic event is unexpected by all involved, but it leads to a battle to gain control of the child for political purposes. Can Kee escape to safety with her baby?
Length: 96 minutes / 1.6 hours
While an unexpected pregnancy can be a plot twist in dramas like Gone Girl (2014), it seems to be a common trope of the comedy genre. When characters have to scramble to figure out how they’re going to handle a baby, comedy ensues. Movies like Knocked Up (2007) and Waitress (2007) focus on the relationships that give birth to these unexpected pregnancies, and what happens to the relationships after this defining event. One night stands and loveless marriages are quite different situations than the oft-demeaned teenage pregnancy. Part of the reason for this is due to the emotional maturity of the parties involved. Teenagers usually don’t have any idea what they want to do with their lives, so being tied down to a newborn and being required to raise it for the next 18 years is a scary and unsettling proposition, especially when these teenagers aren’t even 18 themselves.
The titular Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) is surprised to learn she is pregnant. As a 16-year-old, she should be learning how to drive, but now must make a difficult decision that could affect her entire life. Her initial reaction is to get an abortion, but she changes her mind and opts for adoption instead. With her parents’ support, Juno meets with a couple who want to adopt her baby and immediately bonds with them. Meanwhile, Juno finds herself conflicted in regards to the child’s father, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). She knows he adores her, but the stigma of being a pregnant teenager is one of the forces that causes her to push him away. While Juno and Paulie’s relationship breaks down, the married couple suddenly gets a divorce as well, forcing Juno to make a tough decision for her baby. Will she keep the child and raise it herself, or give it to one of the adoptive parents?
2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 unprepared parents