Amy and Bob want a baby.
Well, Amy does, anyway. Bob wants Amy to be happy. I mean, he loves her, after all. And since the doctors say Amy isn’t physically able to give birth to a child, Bob was wholeheartedly on the babies-are-so-wonderful wagon.
But when Amy suggested adoption, his enthusiasm took a hit. I mean, there’s just something about raising a kid with somebody else’s DNA that kinda bugs him.
Is that wrong?
Is that selfish?
They’ve tabled the discussion for now, but the subject has been weighing on him so heavily that he can’t do his writing job all that well. He’s had to go to a therapist. And he’s now popping Zoloft like gumdrops.
As far as Amy is concerned, her thwarted maternal instincts have turned her toward other projects. She pushed her hubby to purchase a fix-it-up farmhouse (though Bob isn’t the least bit handy). And then there are the animals she’s adopted: an aggressive rabbit; some domestic ducks; more ducks; and turkeys! You name it. If it hops, flaps or waddles near Amy, she wants to wrap it in her loving arms.
And all of that makes Bob want to run for the hills. While upping his dosage.
This can’t be healthy. Isn’t life supposed to work out? Why doesn’t God fix this stuff? He wants them to be happy, right? Isn’t that how it works? Shouldn’t He give them a sign, like maybe have a baby float by in a basket or something?
Ugh! Life is so hard.
Amy and Bob have their nice sides, though they’re both a bit too neurotic and flighty to be consistently held up as good examples. That said, they voice their love for each other and go the extra mile to make their marriage work.
Amy and Bob also reach out to encourage others. The couple meet a young girl named Shirlee, for instance, who’s pregnant out of wedlock and now distraught.
“You just made a mistake,” Amy tells the girl. And when Shirlee worries that she’s going to hell because of it, Amy reassures her that God loves her.
Shirlee ultimately meets and marries a loving man. And they raise her son.
Amy and Bob also change their minds about the possibility of adopting a child. Bob reasons that a family isn’t about bloodlines and DNA, it’s about the people, the love and the ongoing relationships in the family. It’s about “what you are to me, and I am to you. And what we are to our children and our children’s children,” Bob lovingly declares.
Amy and Bob keep an eye out for “signs” in the course of normal life that might give them direction, but the signs they spot rarely lead them anywhere.
The couple purchases a rabbit that Bob kind of hates. But after the animal dies, a saddened Bob is surprised by his emotional response. He buries it and builds something like a mini-shrine to the deceased animal. Amy prays that God will accept the rabbit’s soul. Later, Bob prays a similar prayer for another lost animal.
People talk about children being a “gift from God.”
Songs in the movie’s underscore declare that Jesus and God watch over us and see us through the difficulties of life. And several character conversations suggest the same.
Bob’s therapist warns him of the side-effects of Zoloft, including a variety of physical issues such as lack of sexual desire and “delayed ejaculation.”
Shirlee and her boyfriend, Gerard, make out on her bed (fully clothed) and decide to have sex. After Gerard reports that he doesn’t have any condoms, Shirlee pulls out a roll of Saran Wrap as a possible solution. (We learn that it doesn’t work. Shirlee becomes pregnant.) Shirlee wears Goth-like outfits with short skirts and fishnet stockings.
Amy oddly decides to use willpower and lots of gobbled fruit to get her body to focus on ovulation and fertility.
During one of Bob’s sessions with the various therapists he sees, one depressed therapist steps away and tries to hang himself. Bob has to lift the man up to keep him alive. (It’s played as something of a laughable moment.)
During a flash-forward montage, we’re told of several people dying and see a man die of a heart attack in a hospital. One of Amy and Bob’s turkeys is attacked, and the couple carry the bloodied animal to the vet. Bob is bitten repeatedly by a rabbit, leaving most of his fingers bandaged.
Amy fears that ducks will freeze during a cold night in a nearby pond. So she goads Bob into wading in to rescue them.
There are several uses each of the s-word, “d–n” and “darn.” And one use of the word “b–ch.” Someone is told to “p-ss off.” God’s name is exclaimed some seven times.
Bob goes to a therapy office and is shuffled to a new therapist each time he goes. Each new doc continually raises his Zoloft dosage.
Shirlee brings marijuana-infused cookies to a dinner. Several people eat them and get unexpectedly high. Gerard smokes a joint. Bob and Amy drink champagne at their wedding.
The movie paints psychiatric therapy as somewhat pointless and joke-worthy. Shirlee raises the subject of getting an abortion (though she decides against it).
A father speaks repeatedly of how much of a disappointment his son is. And he’s also dismissive of someone else who he believes to be slacking off.
From a dramatic perspective, Unexpected—the story of a couple desperately seeking a baby and a family—is an odd-duck. It veers almost manically between being a slaphappy comedy (that even makes a joke out of suicide) to being sighingly somber.
That said, there are some uplifting bits and nice performances that peek through the film’s veneer. This lightly faith-focused tale ultimately communicates solid truths about the life-changing and joyful aspects of adoption. And it tells us repeatedly that God can transform our mistakes in positive ways if we simply reach for His help and get out of the way.
It would have been better, perhaps, if Unexpected’s filmmakers had gotten out of the way more often.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.