Planned Parenthood: The Too Obvious Fate of a Pregnant Teen in Lebanon, Pa.
Lebanon, Pa. begins as a tale about male, middle-aged self-discovery, but soon becomes something quite different: a clear-eyed if crassly manipulative take on the culture wars. Driving out to Rick Santorum country for his fathers funeral, slightly douchy Philadelphia ad exec Will (Josh Hopkins) discovers the pleasures of rural life, at least until he uncovers its uglier aspectsand his story fades from the films center. That place is taken up by his distant cousin CJ (Rachel Kitson), a 17-year-old Drexel Universitybound high-schooler who happens to be pregnant. In a town militantly anti-choice, its simply expected that the young woman will go through the birth. Writer-director Ben Hickernell smartly avoids rural caricature as he ensures that even his most closed-minded characters have their reasons, no matter how dubious. Its refreshing, as well, to see a film in which a teenage character doesnt automatically toss away her future due to an unwanted pregnancy, but theres never any doubt about what CJs choice will be. Hickernell stacks the rhetorical deck so heavily in favor of the young womans abortion that her indecision begins to seem less like the realistic uncertainty of a teen in a tough situation than the necessary waffling required to ensure the emotive force of the final payoff.
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