October Baby

Andy Naselli —  February 1, 2012 — 3 Comments

Last week my wife and I watched October Baby, a new film that releases in theaters on March 23.

Here’s the official trailer:

More clips and interviews here.

Some Strengths

  1. It celebrates life in our culture of death. It’s about Hannah, a college freshman who learns that she’s adopted and that her biological mother unsuccessfully tried to abort her and then abandoned her.
  2. It winsomely depicts abortion as what it is—murdering helpless, voiceless little people—with tears and heartache. It connects with people on an emotional level that mere intellectual arguments cannot.
  3. It celebrates family, love, and forgiveness.
  4. It’s relatively clean compared to typical Hollywood movies.

Some Weaknesses

  1. It is religiously generic compared to films like Courageous and Fireproof (Provident Films distributes all three). My expectations, based on what I’d heard elsewhere, were higher. For example, towards the end of the film, Hannah enters a Roman Catholic church building and talks with a Catholic priest, who tells her that based on Paul’s letter to the Colossians, she can forgive others because Christ has forgiven her; but we never learn that Christ has forgiven her nor how or why or on what basis, which makes the priest’s words sound like a motivational Joel Osteen talk.
  2. It sets us up to pull for the two main characters—Hannah and her childhood male friend—while they make some foolish decisions (e.g., traveling to Mardi Gras on spring break and awkwardly sharing a hotel room).
  3. [Spoiler Alert] It promotes a wrong view of forgiveness. Hannah writes a simple note to her unrepentant birth mother: “I forgive you.” Chris Brauns argues in Unpacking Forgiveness: Biblical Answers for Complex Questions and Deep Wounds (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008) that we should respond to the unrepentant in three ways: (1) resolve not to take revenge; (2) proactively show love; and (3) don’t forgive the unrepentant, but leave room for the wrath of God (pp. 129–52).
  4. It resembles a Hallmark movie (not that I would know, mind you). Many of the “funny” parts fall flat, and some of the emotional parts seem shallow. My wife put it this way: “It shows a skewed version of romantic love. I wouldn’t want my daughters to watch the movie without discussing with them ‘the dream boy who has grown up with you your entire life, knows everything about you, understands you better than your parents, and loves you anyway’ version of their romance.”

This film may do a lot of good, and I rejoice that it celebrates life. (I think we should co-belligerently celebrate life and oppose abortion.) But its weaknesses temper my enthusiasm.

3 responses to October Baby

  1. As a father of five, two of which are special needs children that we adopted from China…I can see how a video like this will be interesting to me. Thanks for posting about it!

  2. You should write movie reviews for World magazine. You pointed out several interesting points that I don’t remember World’s review mentioning.

  3. Great Review. Thanks, Andy.

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