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, 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.