Another kind of teen story
On the run, Agnes seeks out her biological father, a well-heeled stock broker played by Brendan Fraser, who seems entirely baffled about how to deal with the daughter he abandoned.
Fraser's character is now married to prim and proper Joanna (Stephanie Szostak), and has two additional children. Joanna has difficulty accepting Agnes, who goes by the nickname Apple.
Director Ron Krauss hasn't exactly made an overt piece of pro-life propaganda, but his movie suffers from a lack of character nuance and it certainly stacks the deck in favor of Apple having a baby.
Apple, who refuses to have an abortion despite Joanna's urging, eventually finds her way -- with help from a clergyman (James Earl Jones) -- to a home for pregnant teens. There, she gradually sheds her punk image and turns into a potential mom. Say goodbye to the nose and lip rings.
The shelter is run by Kathy (Ann Dowd), a Catholic woman whose pro-life position (thankfully) isn't over-emphasized.
Best part of the movie: A convincing Dowd (based on a real-life character) and the young women Apple meets at the shelter.
Hudgens' performance tends to be unmodulated, and at times, the movie sounds like an ad for the shleter. Some of the scenes -- particularly those involving Dawson -- are rendered in a harsh, bruising style that struck me as attempts to sell us on the movie's commitment to realism.
A better drama would have found room for scenes that amplified Apple's plight, possibly adding a real discussion between Apple and her father about the wayward 16-year-old's ability to be a competent parent. The movie also might have addressed questions about how Apple -- who seems intelligent but has no demonstrable skills -- intends to support her child. And the fact that Hudgens is 25 -- and doesn't look 16 -- makes it easier to accept the idea that she's ready for motherhood.
Although it isn't pedal-to-the-metal propaganda, Gimme Shelter didn't strike me as a movie that wants us to give any thought to alternatives for Apple.