Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Run Time: 1 hour 47 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Rachel Hendrix, Jason Burkey, John Schneider, Jasmine Guy
Directed by Andrew & Jon Erwin (feature film debut)
In October Baby, a college freshman has her entire world up-ended when hearing some startling news from the only parents that she’s ever known. Hannah’s epilepsy, asthma, and entire slew of medical difficulties are due to the fact that she was adopted, after surviving a failed abortion attempt by her birth-mother.
At best, October Baby is a deeply religious, pro-life coming-of-age story. At worst, it is a right-wing propaganda film detailing the evils of abortion. It acts as a vehicle for a thinly-veiled Christian message of faith and forgiveness that may only appeal to those who already have found religion, or share in the anti-abortion belief. But politics aside, October Baby is laborious, heavy-handed and schmaltzy filmmaking. In this particular case, hate the messenger, not the message. Or if hating isn’t your thing, feel free to forgive.
It is appalling that this film earned a PG-13 rating – surely for the mere fact that abortion is one of the film’s topics- as it is by far one of the most cleanly unrealistic and wholesome teenage movies I’ve seen in quite some time, if not ever. When Hannah goes on a road trip with her friends to get away, a college-age couple sleeps in separate rooms. When Hannah even begins to have a sexual thought about her long-time friend Jason, she has to stop and run out of the room…for fear of what? And I know that Christians swear, but you won’t find even a simple “gosh darn” in this one.
The musical score and soundtrack doesn’t help things by bashing you over the head, orchestrating every emotion. Each shot is slick and clean, with barely a ruffle of the camera. For getting more and more used to movies that shake the hand-held camera to create a raw sense of realism, this film creates the opposite. It is as pure as its Christian inhabitants.
The news of Hannah’s origin sends her on a spiritual journey of self-discovery. In the end, she is able to find solace by following the teachings of the Bible, where the truth shall set you free, and one must forgive thy neighbor.
An entire road-trip sequence featuring a duo of un-funny nerds seems like a different – and worse- movie altogether. It is shoe-horned into this dramatic film for no real reason other than to give left-wingers another reason to make fun of the stiff and dorky right.
Once again, there is nothing wrong with delivering such a strong religious message, and in many ways October Babyis a courageous voice in what is a sea of left-wing Hollywood liberals used to thumbing their noses at movies such as this. The movie itself is just not done very well. To use another worn-out clichéd phrase, October Baby is preaching to the choir. It may have been a much more effective film if it had attempted to spread its word outside of those that needed not convincing.
By far the best part of the film is the performance of Hannah, played by the bright up-and-coming talent, Rachel Hendrix. Some of her scenes were over-acted, and may have been more appropriate for a TV movie, but she has star power and possesses an on-camera charisma that kept me watching until the end. In a lesser actor’s hands, I may have pulled the plug on October Baby much earlier.
See October Baby to fortify your beliefs on abortion and on God, but don’t go in expecting a drama dealing with real life issues, even though the film claims to confront them.
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