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Faith-based drama about adoption, abortion, forgiveness.
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Tomatometer®reviews counted: 14see all October Baby reviews
Top Critic Reviews
Rotten: The odds that this has happened in the real world approach those of being struck by lightning and eaten by a shark at the same time. With a winning lottery ticket tucked in your swimsuit.
- Andrew O'Hehir, Salon.com, Friday, March 23, 2012
Fresh: Directors Andrew and Jon Erwin, who also contributed to the story, rarely let their film get didactic, instead going for a more low-key approach.
- Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic, Thursday, March 22, 2012
Rotten: The closer Hannah gets to her goal, the more insistent the sermonizing becomes. By the time she confronts the woman who rejected her (a careerist lawyer), we are neck-deep in Lifetime TV bathos.
- Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Thursday, March 22, 2012
Abortion and the rights of choice are topics that inspire intense feelings on all sides. October Baby is the latest evangelical movie to be funded by Provident Films, who gave us Courageous and Fireproof. The directing tandem of Andrew and Jon Erwin take a more melodramatic approach, focusing on the aftereffects of not just abortion but also the aborted. Hannah (Rachel Hendrix) is a 19-year-old college student who collapses during the opening night of her big play. She learns from her family doc that her parents (Jennifer Price, John Schneider) have been keeping some pretty major secrets from her. She was adopted. She was the survivor of a failed late-term abortion. Also, she had a twin brother who did not survive the abortion. Suddenly Hannah's physical and mental maladies make sense, and she's determined to seek out her biological mother and find out more about whom she is. Her lifelong best friend, Jason (Jason Burkey), invites her on a road trip to New Orleans, and the two of them veer off to Mobile, Alabama to look for her mother. Over the course of Hannah's journey, she will come face-to-face with the mother that tried to abort her. Like other heavily funded Christian productions, this is more of a message than a movie, which is a shame because it had the potential to rise above. I guess there are no spoonfuls of sugar accountable when you're dealing with a subject as painful and raw as abortion. I'll give October Baby credit for being less interested in sermonizing. Oh sure, you'll never doubt where the movie stands on the issue and where it wants its audience to go. The fact that a former clinic nurse can recall, in graphic detail, a procedure that was done over 20 years ago seems a tad suspicious, but credit actress Jasmine Guy (TV's A Different World) for nailing this scene. The movie makes a more sincere, modest approach and sidesteps the overt proselytizing of the Kendrick brothers' pictures like Fireproof and Courageous. It's a fervent melodrama, yes, but it doesn't push its message in your face. The issues of faith are seemingly kept to a minimum. Though soft-pedaling the admittedly traumatic story of abortion into a dewy coming-of-age movie seems like a disservice to the drama at play. This is more than one girl just finding out where she came from. This is more than just a routine road trip. This is more than tropes and clichs. This is about the pain of making agonizing decisions and living with them. What about Hannah's biological mother? There's a wealth of dramatic potential there as mother comes face-to-face with the teenage daughter she decided to abort. Just having her reject Hannah all over again to later cry against a doorway seems like a lousy use of screen time. Clearly this woman did not come to this decision impulsively. And yet, October Baby is less interested in exploring the realities of abortion than ascribing psychological torment to all parties (the mother, the baby, the nurse, etc.) and providing a clear, and somewhat contrived, road to redemption and forgiveness. If we're going to feel for these people, they need to feel like recognizable people and not as mouthpieces for message points. We're told via Hannah's journal that she's deeply depressed and contemplating suicide. However, this mental misery does not match the Hannah we have seen on screen at all. I also find it really hard to believe some of her ailments. I'll buy that she has long-lasting physical problems from the failed abortion, including asthma, seizures, and hip issues that require surgery. What I don't buy is that somehow the act of abortion left a psychic scar on this girl and she has gone her entire life feeling unwanted, which is more than a little specious considering her adoptive parents have been unwavering in support and paid for all those costly operations. It's not too long before we realize that Hannah is really just the formless mass of producer ideology. She makes weird decisions, like forcing her platonic friend to sleep on the floor when they have to share a hotel room, and then after blurting out, for no reason, that she is a virgin, she leaves the room that she paid for to sleep on a couch in the lobby. And her platonic friend joins her, so it's acceptable for them to sleep side-by-die on a couch rather than a bed? That makes no sense. Hannah doesn't feel like a person, more like a series of plot points in human form, and her ridiculously happy ending seems a tad disingenuous given the dramatic reveals this woman has endured. Her anger would feel more justifiable if she were more represented as a character. Let me deal with the romantic relationship with Hannah and Jason. They're life-long best friends and the movie even opens with them as smiling children, holding hand and racing to jump into a lake. You can only imagine where the two of them are destined to end up. He even has a standoffish girlfriend (Colleen Trusler) that doesn't like the amount of time Jason spends with his "friend" Hannah. I believe that her resentment is well deserved considering how Jason dances around the truth of spending time with Hannah, often falling back on the shady vague rationalizations, "hanging with... a friend... doing... nothing." As much as Hannah lacks proper characterization, besides being victimized, Jason is also every sweet, nice, good guy trope rolled into a human being. He's less a person than a human-sized version of a loyal puppy ready to lap at her face. He never seems to have any interests or desires or goals other than being there for his dearest platonic pal, and even when she's behaving like a mad woman, he sticks by her. Their eventual coupling is so chaste and passionless that, while inevitable from the opening image, makes little in the way of payoff. Both of these people are rather bland and nice people, so why not be bland and nice together and have bland and nice children who will marry their spouses before they sleep in the same bed together (couches are another story). For a story about teenagers ignoring their parents' wishes and getting into trouble with the law twice, including breaking and entering (because really abandoned hospitals leave behind all their patient info), there's nary a hint of danger or excitement. October Baby looks a lot more professional than the other notable Christian releases that have found themselves in the mainstream marketplace. The photography is actually quite good, bathing Hannah's journey in an amber, honeyed glow, and the Erwin brothers have a knack for visually pleasing compositions. Their background in music videos really shows, especially during the movie's montage sequences. The music, on the other hand, is horribly redundant, lots of twinkling pianos and soft acoustic guitar. Former 2007 American Idol contestant Chris Sligh contributes several low-key tunes to the soundtrack and actually plays the overweight driver for the road trip. He's fat, so you know he's going to be a source of comedy, though you'll be hard-pressed to realize it. Acting-wise, October Baby is also a step up from what we've seen recently. Hendrix (Alumni), despite a somewhat surly characterization, is quite able to handle the many, many crying moments she's run through. She's got a fresh face and hopefully she'll find her footing in the film world. She at least deserves to have as big a career as Kirk Cameron. Burkey (For the Glory) does earnest well and that's about the only note he gets to play. Schneider (TV's Dukes of Hazard) provides a claming presence, even though his beach bum haircut felt off-putting for a surgeon. I kept staring at Schneider onscreen and thinking how strangely he resembled Beau Bridges (The Descendants). The best actor in the movie is from Hannah's biological mother played by Shari Rigby (Easy Rider: The Ride Back). Sure she gets a crying jag all her own, but the actress underplays the mixed emotions upon the confrontation with her past. I wish the movie had concentrated more on this storyline, and more with this actress. The closing credits include a touching interview with Rigby where she confesses relating to her character and the abortion she had in her youth. Those brief couple minutes come across as more honest, engaging, and moving than any of the fictional drama that preceded it. When the topic concerns abortion, it's always going to be a controversial movie no matter the stance. October Baby is not exactly nuanced, but it's a lot gentler than I ever would have imagined. The entire movie takes a cue from its bland but pleasant leads and produces an overwhelmingly bland but pleasant enough experience. There's no demonization of pro-choice people and few scenes of absolute sermonizing. Clearly the movie has an agenda but it doesn't feel so overwhelmingly dogmatic. It's not exactly going to make people rethink their political stances on a hot-button issue, but then again a rather humdrum story with characters that don't feel recognizably human is going to affect the audience members who are there for the message, not the movie. Nate's Grade: C
- mrbungle7821, Wednesday, April 11, 2012
I went in to this movie expecting a great story but maybe a little bit of preachy-ness and slightly mediocre acting but was pleasantly surprised by October Baby. The acting was incredible and the message is not pushed on the audience. Rather, October Baby just tells its story and lets you make your own judgments. Unfortunately, this movie was highly under-advertised and the theater was practically almost empty. (I saw this movie only a few days after a packed theater during the Hunger Games. BIG difference!) But there was a huge emotional response to this movie, maybe more-so than Hunger Games. My friend and I were crying multiple times during the film. It was very dialogue-driven with a montage of beautiful scenes mixed in-between. I'm sure even people who are pro-choice will enjoy this movie if they keep an open mind and just open themselves up to the possibility of this movie happening. As one reviewer put it: "The odds that this has happened in the real world approach those of being struck by lightning and eaten by a shark at the same time. With a winning lottery ticket tucked in your swimsuit." But I suspended my belief, tried to ignore the fact that the film had an almost Lifetime-movie-feel to it, and enjoyed the emotional impact it had on me. It was a really beautiful story with a positive message that life is precious and worth living.
- crazydannielle16, Saturday, March 31, 2012
Any time I ready myself to sit and watch a faith based film I know to expect a few things.; one is a good amount of Christian-themed music sprinkled throughout while the other is questionable, slightly cheesy acting. I had not heard much about "October Baby" before going into it this afternoon except for the fact that it had to deal with the issue of abortion. I myself certainly have a stance on the issue but am not going to use this as a forum to try and persuade you to my point of view or reason why I feel the way I do. Instead I will simply offer my thoughts on the film and how that issue plays into the film is of course a major part of the story it is telling but the positive thing I can commend "October Baby" for doing is not pushing its message on the audience in an overly-preachy way. Unlike the Sherwood produced films like "Fireproof" and "Courageous" , this tends to be less pushy and self-congratulatory and more of a film that simply means well. You can take it or leave it, embrace it or ignore it and it probably won't matter because the people who decide to go out and purchase a ticket to these kinds of films already have their mind made up as to what side of the debate they are on. This is the toughest challenge facing these types of films in that the audience they intend to reach and the audience they do reach are usually not one in the same. It is a film that for all its effort means well, but doesn't necessarily render much of an emotional response. If you are as unfamiliar with the story as I was, it centers around Hannah (newcomer Rachel Hendrix) a college freshman who faints in the opening moments of her theatrical debut. She is oblivious to the root of the health issues that have plagued her entire life and seems suspicious as she has not suffered something so serious since she was an infant. This trip to the hospital brings about the revelation from her parents that they are in fact not her birth parents and that she was adopted after a failed abortion attempt. She was born extremely premature and has thus suffered for the complications of this birth ever since. As mos movies go when our main character finds out they were adopted Hannah also decides it is in her best interest to go and find her birth mother to find out who she "really is". This may make me sound like a heartless prick but the thin that bothered me most about this scenario is that Hannah seems to have it figured out as to who she is and who she wants to be. Her loving yet over-protective father Jacob (John Schneider) works at the hospital and they live a life that is remotely stress free until Hannah decides to go and complicate things. I can somewhat understand the need to find out what the reasons were that led to your life almost being taken away before it even began but the whole plot of the film, the theme of the young girl needing to discover herself, is something that could have seemingly been taken care of with a good ole family discussion. While it is a well meaning film that certainly doesn't excuse its faults. "October Baby" in possibly more experienced and more talented hands could have been a heavy handed drama that dealt with a subject ripe with political and personal effects that has just as many shades of perception as the Bible does. What we have here though is a piece written and directed by first time feature directors the Erwin brothers. the film looks beautiful but depends too heavily on its standard soundtrack to move along scenes with montages in between dialogue heavy moments. The film is essentially a series of discussions strung together by beautiful shots of the beach and sunsets and skies and our lead characters hair blowing in the wind as she hangs her head out the window. It is all very liberating I'm sure, but the technique grows old after the first two times we see it in the first twenty minutes. There are a few moments here and there that really hit you in the gut and that is when things get real. The moment Hannah sits down and confronts the nurse that took her birth mother to the hospital the day she went into labor is shockingly blunt compared to the rest of the film. Jasmine Guy as nurse Mary relays horrifying details about the process of some abortion operations and in that moment the audience is shook into realizing the severity of the issue these filmmakers have decided to tackle. If only this tone was more consistent throughout this could have possibly been billed as something more. The worst thing that can be said about the film though is that at certain points it dips so far into melodrama that it feels you just paid to watch a Lifetime movie. The acting isn't nearly as cheesy here as I would have expected, lead Hendrix is more than capable and is able to convey some of the cornier dialogue with the strongest amount of sincerity while her on screen love interest Jason as played by Jason Burkey doesn't fare as well. The supporting cast, the most notable being Schneider, do a fine enough job of lending some credibility to the younger cast while the comic relief of the film is unnecessary and is trying way too hard. I can appreciate what the makers are trying to do here and I can certainly understand why they would feel the need to paint a portrait of what this can really do to effect the life of someone who had no say in such a determining decision. Some will criticize the film for trying to brainwash its audience into thinking one way or another about the topic of abortion, but I am not here to tell you what you should think and neither is "October Baby". It is simply there to give an example of one person's take on the matter and hopefully shed light on why they think the way they do. The point certainly could have been made in a more effective way, but I won't fault anyone for trying. I will only complain that it certainly could have been better.
- fb1025970122, Saturday, March 24, 2012