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October Baby

2011 | 110 min | PG-13 | 2.39:1

October Baby


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Theatrical release date

 23 March, 2012

Country of origin

 United States

Box office




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October Baby Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, March 23, 2012

“October Baby” aims to tell a poignant story about abortion survival, and it does so in the most banal manner imaginable. A tedious motion picture with a pronounced pro-life purpose, “October Baby” is primarily devoted to teary interactions and horrifically strained comic beats, hoping to tackle an unsavory subject matter in a delicate matter, backed by liberal use of montages and dewy cinematography that resembles a coffee commercial. It’s a disingenuous movie without a human moment, reliant on its religious message to entice audiences, barely making a screen effort to tell a persuasive story about a sensitive subject.

A college student who faints onstage during her acting debut, Hannah (Rachel Hendrix) comes to realize her lifelong battle with heath issues is tied to her premature birth triggered during a botched abortion. Startled with the revelation, hid carefully by parents Jacob (John Schneider) and Grace (Jennifer Price), Hannah is determined to meet her “real mother,” joining her friends, including flirty pal Jason (Jason Burkey), on a road trip to Mardi Gras with hope to visit the place of her traumatic birth along the way. With Jason’s encouragement, Hannah reaches out to a nurse (Jasmine Guy) who oversaw the failed abortion and to her biological mother (Shari Rigby), who wants nothing to do with the young woman. Looking to God and forgiveness after enduring the sting of rejection, Hannah reassesses her life and capacity for love.

Co-written and co-directed by Jon and Andrew Erwin, “October Baby” resembles a great number of Christian-themed movies released in recent years. With its languid pace, chunky dialogue, and syrupy stances of sermonizing, the picture doesn’t bring an original vision to the screen. Instead, it walks in the footprints of releases like “Fireproof” and “Courageous,” carrying itself lightly to address a hot potato subject matter, shellacked with crocodile tears, bland soundtrack selections, and an absurdly happy ending. While it approaches the subject of abortion in a manner few films would dare replicate, “October Baby” doesn’t show much of a spine, skittish around a true inspection of the issue, carefully preserving its candied pro-life message while it flirts with profound emotional wreckage worthy of a cinematic examination.

While completely uneventful, “October Baby” also suffers from undercooked characterizations, finding the Erwins more comfortable with clichéd portraits of wounded souls over something meatier that could urge the drama along. Instead of multifaceted individuals, there are only cardboard cutouts to observe, with Jason scripted as an unthreatening nice guy, while Jacob is the standard-issue protective father, resistant to his daughter’s pleas for independence. As the lead character, Hannah is a vanilla figure of shame, while showing surprising volatility toward her parents, with a few scenes coming close to condemning the miracle of adoption. Hannah is here to be flogged for her mother’s sins, and Hendrix delivers an overly weepy, strangely unlikable performance to meet those demands, keeping the young woman consistently irrational and unnecessarily dim-witted.

Comic relief is provided by actors Carl Maguire and Chris Sligh, and these two are unbearable, working a type of wheezy improvisational wit one would acquire from an internet how-to page. The clowns even throw in a Unabomber joke -- a distasteful line in a Christian movie, considering how Ted Kaczynski’s reign of terror took the lives of three innocent people. The film’s definition of “pro-life” is shamefully limited.

“October Baby” is simplistically crafted, with Guy popping in mid-movie to portray a magically helpful nurse who recalls every single detail from a medical event that occurred 20 years ago. There’s also plenty of time devoted to chaste flirtations between Jason and Hannah, building a love story without much in the way of passion. Little effort is made to understand Hannah’s biological mother as well, which does a great disservice to the traumatic issues the filmmakers initially look to expose. Instead, “October Baby” sloppily gums the subject of abortion, never discovering truth or feeling. It’s all forgiveness and climactic smiles, missing a great opportunity to bring a direct point of view forward worth some honest post-screening conversation.

Starring: Rachel Hendrix, John Schneider, Jasmine Guy

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