Nineteen-year-old Hannah (Rachel Hendrix) is the star of her college play. It’s opening night and she’s nervous. Mid-performance, Hannah forgets her lines, gets dizzy, starts breathing heavily and collapses. After a battery of tests come up negative, the doctor tells Hannah her symptoms are emotional. Hannah’s dad (John Schneider) reveals he had sent the doctor a copy of Hannah’s journal in which she wrote that she was feeling dead inside, unwanted and wanted to end her life. Her parents then reveal that they are not her biological parents. In fact, they adopted her after she was born 24 weeks premature due to a failed abortion attempt.
Hannah is angry at her parents and upset. To help lift her spirits, Hannah’s childhood best friend Jason (Jason Burkey) invites her to join him and some friends on a road trip to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. Jason also plans a detour through Mobile, Alabama so that Hannah can visit the hospital where she was born, learn about her past, and confront her birth mother. Along the journey Hannah falls in love, discovers more details of her traumatic past, and learns forgiveness.
I didn’t know anything about this film before I received the Blu-ray for review or started watching the film. If I had read “Christian coming-of-age film about a girl who discovers she is the product of a failed abortion”, I don’t think I would have even given it a chance. However, October Baby is a pretty solid drama, with some fun comedic moments. The two leads, Rachel Hendrix and Jason Burkey, give great performances and have really good chemistry. The guest appearances by John Schneider as Hannah’s Dad, Jasmine Guy as Nurse Mary and Shari Rigby as the birth mother were also well done. The soundtrack, comprised primarily of songs by independent singer/songwriters, really added to the emotional feeling of the journey taken throughout the film. The theme song, “Life is Beautiful”, is pretty catchy.
October Baby starts off with some pretty creative film-making. First we see these beautiful, sunny flashbacks to young Hannah and Jason playing on a dock. In the next scene, Hannah’s asthma attack and collapse on stage was filmed in such a way that the viewer really feels that disorientation and confusion along with Hannah. The rest of the film looks great with its scenic views and dramatic close-ups. However, it is shot pretty straightforward and never recaptures the uniqueness of that claustrophobic stage collapse shot.
The group road trip aspect of the film was too short. The film spends quite a bit of time introducing the friends who are traveling together, but two scenes later the road trip is down to just Jason and Hannah. The friends added comic relief to the film, and I would have liked to see more of these characters and see them more integrated into the plot. From the deleted scenes, it looks like there was a lot more that was filmed but cut out. In fact, only 10 of the 32 deleted scenes from the film even appear on the Blu-ray. That said, the smaller road-trip with just Jason and Hannah works quite well, and is a fun romantic journey between the two. One refreshing aspect of this relationship is that it’s more about the blossoming romance and friendship, and not all about sex, like you would get with a typical Hollywood film.
If I had one complaint about the film, it is that it got borderline preachy with its pro-life/anti-abortion message at times. It is evident why this is the case if you look at all of the Pro-Life and Christian groups listed as partners in the credits for the film. That said, I didn’t find it overly oppressive.
Overall, the film is entertaining and allows the viewer to join Hannah on her emotional journey, learning about hope, love and the power of forgiveness.
- Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD MA
- English SDH, French subtitles
- Audio commentary by The Erwin Brothers and The October Baby Family (1:48:58)
The creators and cast give their thoughts throughout the film. The director does a good job of prompting a discussion with the actors about the filming of the scenes. This was one of the more interesting commentaries I’ve listened to.
- October Bloopers (5:00)
All the things you would expect from a gag reel—flubbed lines, alternate takes, singing and laughing.
- Deleted Scenes (15:43)
Ten additional scenes not included in the film. Some of these were really good, and it’s a shame they didn’t make it into the final cut.
- Finding Hannah (4:46)
The Erwin brothers talk about the casting of relative newcomer Rachel Hendrix.
- Shari’s Story (4:55)
Actress Shari Rigby, who plays the birth mother in the film, talks about how the role resonated with her own experiences. Portions of this appear during the credits of the film.
- Gianna Jessen: The Inspiration (5:08)
The Erwin brothers talk about how the story of abortion survivor Gianna Jessen inspired the film. Gina talks about how the film affected her.
- Singing the Praises of October Baby (3:32)
Recording artists who have worked with the Erwin Brothers on music videos give their reactions to the film.
- Facebook Q&A with Jason & Rachel (6:24)
Rachel Hendrix and Jason Burkey answer questions posed by Facebook fans.
- Every Life is Beautiful (14:12)
Folks affiliated with the film or the Erwin brothers talk about what the words “Every Life is Beautiful” means to them. These include: Jon Erwin (2:07), Gianna Jessen (1:40), Andy Erwin (2:32), Mark Hall (1:15), Pat Layton (2:27), Ken Bevel (1:08) and Dan Atchison (2:59)
- The Afters “Life Is Beautiful” Music Video (4:12)
Music video for the song from the film’s soundtrack.
The picture on this Blu-ray was crisp and crystal clear, and the scenic shots look great. The audio is perfect and really lets the soundtrack shine. The blu-ray has a pretty impressive and extensive set of extras. The only thing I would have liked to see is maybe a bit more behind the scenes footage of the filming. The only glimpse we get of that is in the Blooper Reel.
I found October Baby entertaining and it kept my interest. I would have liked to see it be more of a romantic road trip comedy/drama coming of age story. It came close, but never fully realized its potential in this aspect. The film’s slightly heavy-handed pro-life message may be a bit off-putting for some viewers. The film is rated PG-13, and while there isn’t really any sex, nudity or cursing, some of the subject matter may be a bit disturbing for younger viewers, so parents may want to take that into consideration and may want to check it out before watching with children.
Note: This is currently a Walmart Exclusive title.