Friday, March 23, 2012
Movie review: October Baby
A manipulative film that preaches to the choir.
It’s next to impossible to evaluate the new film October Baby without addressing the elephant in the room, so let’s just get it out of the way: The film addresses abortion in a much more direct way than any other film you’re likely to see. But it also does so in such a way that it could be mistaken for a regular old coming-of-age story, albeit one couched in heavy Christian themes.
Hannah (Rachel Hendrix) is a college student whose world is rocked when, after a health scare, her parents inform her that they adopted her after she survived a late-term abortion attempt. Like multiple other adopted children stories, she decides to try and track down her birth mother. She’s helped by her longtime friend Jason (Jason Burkey), who may or may not be hiding feelings for her.
Brothers Andrew and Jon Erwin’s approach to the story is telling, as it sets up Hannah’s story in such a way that a viewer couldn’t help but sympathize, no matter their personal feelings on abortion or beliefs on the effects it could have on someone who survived one. But they also pile on the manipulation a bit too much, including coincidences amongst the supporting characters Hannah meets on her road trip that strain credibility and pronouncements that leave almost no room for dissent. The film’s earnestness doesn’t really mix well with such blatant pushes toward one ideology.
The Brothers Erwin also overly rely on Christian pop songs to illustrate the feelings of their characters. Instead of using background music that could subtly nudge the audience in the direction they wanted, they blare inspirational songs at every opportunity, killing any kind of goodwill the story had built up. Many of the songs are sung by former American Idol contestant Chris Sligh, who parlays his goofy stint on that reality show (for anyone who remembers him, that is) into an equally goofy, if not quite as successful, supporting role here.
Hendrix does well in her big screen debut, giving Hannah the right amount of confusion and pain without ever becoming maudlin. John Schneider is decent as her father, although many of the lines he has to deliver don’t do him any favors. The only other likely familiar face for most is Jasmine Guy, who makes an impact in a small role.
October Baby is obviously intended for one particular segment of society, and it’s likely the filmmakers aren’t particularly interested in how anyone with opposing viewpoints sees the film. But from a purely technical filmmaking standpoint, they could’ve done a lot better.
For showtimes for October Baby, click here.