A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that October Baby isn't meant for young or sensitive kids. It focuses on very heavy issues that parents are likely to want to discuss with teens who watch: family deception, the would-be grim consequences of a failed late-term abortion, and a young woman's struggle with anger and depression. In a particularly disturbing scene, a witness recalls the graphic details of the abortion attempt. The filmmakers (brothers who wrote, directed, produced, shot, and edited the movie) bring a clear Christian point of view to the material; after a dizzying array of complications, everything is resolved through faith and a devotion to religious values. Despite October Baby's subject matter, there's no sexual activity; there's also no swearing or offensive language, no on-camera drinking or smoking, and no violent action.
What's the story?
When Hannah Lawson (a heartfelt performance by newcomer Rachel Hendrix) unexpectedly collapses, her doctor stuns the 19-year-old with the news that not only is she adopted, but her premature birth was caused by a failed late-term abortion procedure. Her continuing medical problems (epilepsy, asthma, hip impairments) are also asserted to be a result of that early birth. Hannah's parents apologize and try to rationalize their secrecy, but the girl is devastated. She prevails upon her best friend, Jason (the sincere and likeable Jason Burkey), to include her on a spring break road trip to New Orleans with his friends. She hopes that they can stop over in Mobile, Alabama -- the city in which she was born -- to find her birth mother. What follows is Hannah's discovery of more heartbreaking news that her parents kept from her, as well as a series of hurtful encounters -- with Jason's girlfriend, with the nurse who assisted in Hannah's delivery, and with the biological mother who didn't want her. Angry, confused, and frightened, Hannah has to come to terms with her real identity, her parents' betrayal, and a world turned upside-down.
Is it any good?
Earnest and well-meaning, OCTOBER BABY will most likely appeal to a Christian audience that already shares its guiding principles. A warm-hearted romance, good performances, and solid production values are marred by a slow pace, overly literal music choices, and illogical story elements. The plot relies heavily upon coincidence; the tragedies and lies pile up, and as they do, it becomes very hard to suspend disbelief. And the scene in which the delivery nurse (Jasmine Guy) describes the abortion attempt and Hannah's subsequent premature birth seems purposefully shocking (as well as unlikely) in order to drive home a particular point of view.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what different audiences might get out of October Baby. If you're religious, do movies like this one help reaffirm your beliefs or introduce new ones? If you're not religious, what can you learn from them?
Talk about honesty between parents and kids. When, if ever, is it OK for parents to lie or keep secrets from their children? Teens: If you've ever been caught lying, how did your parents deal with it?
- In theaters: March 23, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: September 11, 2012
- Cast: Jason Burkey, John Schneider, Rachel Hendrix
- Directors: Andrew Erwin, Jon Erwin
- Studio: Provident Films
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Brothers and sisters, Friendship
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: mature thematic material
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.