October Baby (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
26Mar/120

October Baby (2012)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

October Baby is a film that urgently needs some annoying lout in the audience shouting back to every inane moment of it.

"HOW CAN SOMEONE BE SO PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE?"  "WHY DOES THIS SONG KEEP ASKING ME IF I BELIEVE IN BRIDGES?" "HOW CAN THIS FILM HAVE MORE ENDINGS THAN RETURN OF THE KING?"

Is that rude? Yes. But would it feel satisfying, even with all of the other patient movie goers tossing buckets of half-eaten ranch flavored popcorn at the back of my head? Definitely. I'm a courteous moviegoer on the outside, but on the inside I wanted to claw at the screen and scream.

October Baby.

October Baby is the story of Hannah (Rachel Hendrix), a young college freshman whose acting ambitions are stalled when she has an epileptic seizure and learns a terrible secret about her past: she's adopted, and the product of a failed abortion. So we have the usual 'Lifetime-Movie-of-the-Week' "where do I belong when it turns out I was adopted?" melodrama to the second degree.

Well, the multiplication doesn't help, since it takes a very rote story of teenage acceptance and makes it world-shaking instead of intimate. Here's what we learn about Hannah during this journey of self discovery:

  • She's a virgin.
  • She's a Baptist.
  • She likes acting (and she's apparently good enough to get the lead in her college play as a Freshmen, though not good enough to have actually made friends with any fellow actors).
  • She doesn't understand how to deal with anything.
  • She really, really likes to bite the bottom of her lip (not Kristen Stewart's only influence on Hendrix's performance, I assure you).
  • She can't maintain consistent emotional tones for the life of her.
  • She's passive aggressive as hell.

It's disappointing, mostly, since these traits come consistently into play but never evolve. October Baby is Hannah's journey to try and discover the woman who almost killed her, and the most she gets out of it at the end is baiting a cute boy named Jason (Jason Burkey)  into dumping his jerk girlfriend and dating her instead.

I guess I'm not surprised to see an anti-abortion film portray its female lead as incapable of any true depth of emotion, but it's still kind of a nasty shock when act three rolls around and we realize every single action she's taken that's paid off positively have been at the suggestion or prodding of a man. One even shows up to throw the film's message in an underhand pitch to the audience, so that we, as well as Hannah, can listen to his parable and have all of our collective inner turmoil resolved.

October Baby.

By the way, the film hints that Jason is not a virgin, and that that's okay; it's what women do with their bodies we're concerned with here. He's sweet, and gives Hannah the means to join him on a road trip to Mobile, Alabama to meet her birth mother. Since Hannah can't do a whole lot besides look fraught with worry while increasingly abstract Norah Jones-esque songs blare on the soundtrack, maybe it's for the best that he showed up when he did, even if his vacant grin makes him look like he's ready to play Rick Santorum on Saturday Night Live.

They have wacky cohorts and wacky adventures in a way that makes The Muppet Movie seem risque. Hannah manages to cry herself out of an arrest twice, and expound upon a series of ridiculous coincidences to discover her mom in less than a few hours in town. I'm sure those behind the film would suggest that this is implying a divine being is helping her along in this journey, but I think that history has shown that divine beings usually do not make their narrative work look shoddy in comparison to dramas on the Hallmark channel.

People hoping to come in and find their anti-abortion viewpoint trumpeted will find tidbits there, but in an elliptical manner. The nurse who attempted to assist in the late term abortion of Hannah hints that the clinic was a dark evil place where ghosts and goblins certainly roamed. The film wisely knows that implication in this case is more gruesome than demonstration, and the scene is effective though effusive.

When it does come to dealing with the topic of abortion directly, though, the film's philosophy is quoted as being (and I'm giving away the entire film here, so don't read this if you really want to watch this one): "Hate the sinner, not the sin."

Which, honestly, is a lot more tolerant than I was expecting, and probably a little bit dishonest for the movie to put forward since its entire structure indicate it to be of a separate mind entirely. The film's clear thoroughline is that any aborted fetus was really destined to turn into a beautiful virginal white girl who would most certainly have been adopted by a rich family if only horrible sexually promiscuous people didn't get in the way. Which is a track of reasoning, I think most can agree, that contains several impressively elaborate fountains of illusions.

October-- oh, can you look to the left JUST ONCE?!

Look, I'm not going to come down on the film solely because I heartily disagree with its moralistic stance. I've liked movies whose surface opinions I've disagreed with before. I've loved movies that center on strong female protagonists. I even liked films with obvious morals that are hilariously unsubtle.

October Baby fails because it's meandering, cautious, and sappy. It's more Nicholas Sparks than Jesus Christ, and only the most meek and undemanding audiences will greet this movie with anything other than disappointment or derision.

I will give the film one last credit. It definitely addresses its central ethical quandary in such a way that I simply wanted to yell it back at the screen as a suggestion unto itself. "ABORT! ABORT! ABORRRRRT!"

Posted by Danny

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