A few weeks back I was wondering what had become of that precocious kid from Hocus Pocus, and now I have my answer…
The Pregnancy Pact (2010) is a TV-movie starring Thora Birch as ‘Sidney Bloom’, a vlogger who returns to her old hometown to investigate a suspicious spike in teen pregnancies at the local high school. Apparently, this story was inspired by a real life scandal that flared up in Gloucester, Massachusetts in 2008… but despite all the media attention, there’s been no solid proof to suggest that any of the girls made a “pact” to get pregnant at all… a couple of expectant teen mothers simply promised to form a support group to help each other out with childcare, and this was misinterpreted by the school principal.
But never mind the facts, what about the legend? According to its Wikipedia page this show was a big ratings-grabber, and it’s not hard to see why… it tells a solid story around an intriguing premise, with a talented cast composed of familiar faces and newcomers alike. In the early scenes, it actually plays a lot like a horror movie… only instead of getting bitten by vampires or replaced by alien pod-people, these teenagers are all getting knocked up! It’s like Invasion of the Breeders, or something! ‘Sara Dougan’ (Madisen Beaty) seems particularly sinister, glowering intensely every time her jock boyfriend shows the slightest doubts about their relationship, and craftily using physical affection to lull him back into line. She’s supposed to be the most sympathetic of the girls featured here, or at least the one Sidney spends the most time talking to and befriending, but it’s hard to feel too sorry for her because she comes off as a bit of a sociopath. Ironically, her mother (Nancy Travis) is head of the local Family Values Council, and a firm believer in the unequivocal awesomeness of Abstinence… even though in a later scene, she admits to Sara that when she was a teenager herself, she wasn’t always as chaste as she might have led her daughter to believe.
On the other side of the Sex Ed divide is the school’s exasperated nurse, ‘Kim Daly’ (Camryn Manheim), who eventually ends up resigning in protest over the issue. I was trying to figure out where I’d seen Manheim before… and apparently the answer is “everywhere!” Aside from a major recurring role in Ghost Whisperer, she’s also appeared in The L Word, The Laramie Project, Will & Grace, What Planet Are You From?, Happiness, Ally McBeal, and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion… which is probably where I remembered her from, being abused by Janeane Garofalo (“F*ck off, Toby!”). Meanwhile, I thought Michelle DeFraites gave a sparky performance as ‘Karissa’, the girl whose disturbing enthusiasm for peeing on plastic sticks first tips Nurse Kim off to the fact that something might me awry.
As for the star of the show… well, there’s no doubt that Birch is still a strikingly beautiful woman, but there are only a few, fleeting flashes here of the brilliant, quirky actress we knew and loved as ‘Enid Coleslaw’. So let’s keep our finger crossed for a Tarantino-style career revival sometime soon, shall we?