I finally got to see October Baby. Thank you, Netflix, for making it available to stream! It's been on my watch list for a while now, but I don't make it out to a lot of movies, and I don't think October Baby ever made it out to Rockford. Better late than never, as they say. And as it turns out, October Baby is far better than most of what you can stream on Netflix.
For those of you who are well connected to the pro-life subculture, you're already familiar with October Baby. You probably saw it long before I did. But for those of you who aren't, this may be the first time you're hearing of it. And that's a shame. October Baby deserves a much broader audience. Perhaps Netflix will provide exactly that. Let's pray it does.
Without giving too much away, October Baby tells the story of a college coed who unexpectedly discovers she was adopted after a failed, 24-week abortion. Infuriated with her adoptive parents for keeping such a secret from her, she hits the road in search of answers—and in search of her biological mom.
In other words, October Baby has a loaded backstory that could have easily devolved into a painful and farfetched mess. But it doesn't. Instead of over-the-top moralizing, we meet with flawed heroes and sympathetic villains—characters who bear the nuances of real life, just like we do. And even as the movie nears its conclusion, it's hard to tell how the story is going to resolve itself. I was engaged from start to finish. So much so that I no longer begrudge the choice to cast John Schneider as the dad. He somehow managed to cease being Bo Duke to me (for at least two hours) and made me forget all about the Hazzard County of my youth (though part of me wishes he could have pulled up in an orange Charger to claim his awol daughter).
My only substantive complaint has nothing to do with the film itself. It has to do with the poster and packaging. The text of Psalm 139:16 appears just below the title, and the tagline, "Every Life is Beautiful," is prominently placed alongside the imprint of two tiny feet. The scripture reference marks October Baby as a Christian movie, and the "precious feet" tagline marks it as a pro-life movie. Why does that bother me? Because I want people to see this movie, not to write it off as a niche film!
For the most part, I positively avoid Christian movies, and I'm a Christian! What is the average non-Christian going to think when they see a Bible verse on the movie poster or Blu-ray case? Christian films have an unfortunate but well-deserved reputation for poor acting, syrupy scripts, and shoddy production. October Baby has none of those things, so why give people the impression that it does? More to the point, religion barely enters the plot. And when it does, it remains generic and ecumenical. This is not a preachy movie—despite what you might think looking at the poster. I realize there's industry pressure to market to your base, but I would have taken a different tact.
For me, the most compelling part of October Baby has nothing to do with abortion. It has to do with the relationship between a flawed, but loving father and the beautiful, 19-year-old daughter who has seemingly lost her way. That hits me close to home because I am a flawed father with a beautiful, 9-year-old daughter. In ten short years (Lord willing), I'll be a flawed father with a beautiful, 19-year-old daughter, and that is an almost paralyzing thought. I'm not saying that fathers love beautiful daughters more, but beautiful daughters do give you more to worry about! So I feel the weight of this father's agony—that tension between wanting to fiercely protect your little girl while having to release her into a cruel, dark world. God help us!
October Baby is not primarily a movie about abortion. It's a movie about fear and failure and forgiveness. Abortion just happens to make up a key plot point—which itself violates Hollywood's unwritten abortion policy (pretend it doesn't exist!). Add in the fact that so much of the marketing for this film has been directed towards pro-life, Christians and it's understandable why October Baby has sort of been pigeon-holed as a pro-life movie. Don't let that fool you. It is both more and less. October Baby is not going to single handedly turn the tide on abortion. No movie can. But it does highlight the fact that abortion has severe and irreversible consequences—which is true whether the abortion takes place at 4-weeks or 24-weeks.
So when you take some time to watch October Baby this week (and you should), don't think of it as a Christian movie or a pro-life movie. It's just a great movie. And that should be enough.
Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. You can also find him on Facebook and Google+. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.