Monday, March 26, 2012

Movie Review: October Baby

By Mike Parker
courtesy of http://buddyhollywood.com

October Baby opens with college student, Hannah (Rachel Hendrix) stepping onto the stage for her theatrical debut.

Unfortunately, before she can deliver her first line she collapses from an unknown malady. Multiple medical tests point to Hannah’s difficult birth and force the revelation that not only was Hannah adopted, but she was the product of botched abortion attempt. Bewildered, angered, and confused, Hannah hits the road to confront her birth mother and find out who she really is.

October Baby
Provident Films

October Baby, like most films, has good points and bad points. Unfortunately, due to its subject matter, critics and reviewers will tend to focus on one or the other based on their position on the abortion debate. Pro-lifers will tend to support it while abortion advocates will universally despise it, without paying much attention to the actual film. Think I’m wrong? Just read the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and compare them to the positive audience reactions.

Well, I admit I’m just as opinionated as the next guy, and I never claimed to write an unbiased review. Here’s what I think of October Baby.

I liked it. I think it deserves a solid 3 out of 5 stars. Not a bad rating for a low-budget, independent, faith-based film. Let’s face it, a million dollar film is simply never going to be able to compete with a 50 million dollar film, either in quality or marketing.

On the positive side, October Baby featured some really nice performances, not only from Hollywood veterans like John Schneider (Dukes of Hazzard, Smallville), who has become something of a staple in these types of films, but also from the film’s young leads, Rachel Hendrix and Jason Burkey. Both of these relatively unknown actors deliver polished, nuanced and believable performances. The faith element in the film is evident but nuanced. There wasn’t much sermonizing going on, despite what mainstream critics would have you believe. This is not a Bible-thumping, somebody-has-to-get-saved kind of movie, like Fireproof or Courageous. The cinematography was uniformly excellent. October Baby is a good looking film. Honestly, this is the direction faith-based filmmakers should be going if they really want to build an audience outside the four walls of the church and play to someone other than the choir.

On the down side, the script is a little sketchy at times. Hannah collapses in the opening scene, but even though her plethora of physical problems is alluded to later in the film, it never really is addressed again. There were plenty of opportunities for humor, particularly with Chris Sligh’s character, that were never really fully developed. And I cringed at the scene where Hannah offers a cop money to overlook a traffic violation. I’m pretty sure if I tried that I’d end up in jail. It’s called bribery, and cops tend to take a dim view of it. Then again, I’m not a pretty young girl, but I digress.

Bottom line: October Baby should do well in the faith-based market, which is substantial. It could do well in the mainstream market if viewers gave it a chance, which they probably won’t due to its subject matter. And it is going up against Hunger Games, which I predict will blow every other film out of the water this weekend.

Author Mike Parker edits the popular entertainment site Buddy Hollywood.com. He and his wife, Paula, also an author, live outside of Nashville.

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Daily Inspiration

The Blind Side

Read about the real life mom from "The Blind Side."

Lifeway: http://www.lifeway.com/article/?id=169816

Guideposts: http://www.guideposts.com/story/sandra-bullock-blind-side-football?page=0,1

Read Matt Mungle's review of the movie at http://www.buddyhollywood.com/.

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Lauren Yarger, Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

In 2008 she was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater with a Christian perspective for Reflections in the Light (http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/) and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com

She also reviews books for Publisher's Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She formerly was Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp, a national theater web site bsed in New York and a reviewer for American Theater Web.

She also served as Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

She is a freelance writer and member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The CT Critics Circle.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger lives with her husband in West Granby, CT and has two adult children.

Copyright Notice

All contents copyright © Lauren Yarger 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact masterworkproductions@yahoo.com.

Scripture from THE MESSAGE Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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