Mick Jagger swingin’ and jivin’ his hips was nowhere to be found.
Apple (Vanessa Hudgens) is a 16-year-old pregnant girl living with her abusive mother (Rosario Dawson) and is looking for a way out. She gets that one day when she ends up at the house of her biological father (Brendan Fraser)’s where he takes her in, despite them clearly not having anything whatsoever in common. When he and his family find out about the pregnancy, they give her two options: Either have the baby and take of it on her own, or get an abortion and stay in their house for as long as she’d like. Apple options for the later, but right before the operation happens, she flees the scene and somehow ends up in a hospital-bed where an older, faith-based man (James Earl Jones) tells her about the joys of living by God’s law and way. Apple is against this originally, but decides that she has nowhere to stay and decides to do what he says, and stick with him. That is, until he realizes she’s pregnant and puts her into a young mother’s home, where she is around gals just like her, even if her brash attitude may not always mesh with the others; mainly the head caretaker (Ann Dowd).
Right as soon as I spelled-out the word “God” you could already tell what this movie was going to be all about: A whole lot of preaching about how life is sacred, how one should devote their life to God and most importantly, how one should not kill their baby. I get that these are messages very important to people out there and I for one, do not necessarily disagree with them, however, I do have a problem when a movie constantly jam that message down my throat.
Better yet, I hate it when a bad movie decides to jam its message down my throat. Because honestly, if this movie was any good or at least interesting in a “bad-crazy kind of way”, I wouldn’t have a problem feeling as if I just sat down to listen to a sermon for two whole hours. But it’s crap and it’s crap that doesn’t really do anything at all, except just preach like its Vacation Bible School all over again for a younger-version of yours truly.
Where this movie mainly fails is in how it doesn’t really seem to have much of a plot, except for just a bunch of scenes that can serve as “talking points” for the audience. For instance, Apple goes to the abortion clinic, which you know is going to stir up plenty of chatter among those who see this. Then, there’s another scene in which Apple gets into countless fights with her upper-class, biological father and his wife, prompting the idea of a clash of two different cultures. And then, there’s of course all that baby stuff that really just had me ripping my head out.
And I get the stance this movie is taking: Don’t have abortions because giving and taking care of a life is the most beautiful one thing a person can do. I understand that and personally, I don’t have a problem with that. However, I do have a big problem when that seems to be the only thing the movie has to say for itself. No real conflict, no real character-development, no real nothing. What this is here is basically a Lifetime made-for-TV-movie, with way too many talented people in it.
Most importantly, Vanessa Hudgens as Apple, our protagonist we’re supposed to care for, but for some reason, get annoyed of right off the bat. It’s a shame too, because you can tell that Hudgens is really trying with this character – both physically and literally. She looks the part of a troubled, poverty-stricken kid and definitely takes much pride in “uglying herself up”, but it doesn’t seem to go anywhere whenever she talks. Once again, it’s not like Hudgens isn’t trying, she totally is, but maybe it’s a bit too much.
For instance, whenever Hudgens opens her mouth, she has to sound like a cold hearted, stone cold gangsta, so she gives herself a slangy-like accent. At first, it’s hardly noticeable and it was probably better that way; however, once the movie goes on and on and she has to talk a whole lot more, it really gets hard to listen to. At best, she sounds like a really shitty Wire extra that David Simon realized was bad, but had to leave in due to budget-concerns and the fact that she was a hot chick. But at her worst, she’s an actress trying too hard to sound like a young, troubled girl, when she should have just been one.
Her scenes get more painful when she’s around the rest of the cast of dramatic heavy-weights like Ann Dowd, James Earl Jones, Rosario Dawson, and I guess, Brendan Fraser. Yeah, I know it’s a bit weird to think of Brendan Fraser as an actual good actor in something, but here, he gives us some moral-ground when everything with this situation seems to go sour right from the beginning. He takes Apple in, cares for her and tends to her needs by any means possible, and still finds problems with her because she is so different from the rest of her family. In a way, I felt bad for the guy, even if he did just one day, knock up a girl and not decide to be a father to that baby.
Surprised this movie didn’t make him out to be a total and complete a-hole to begin with.
The only wildcard out of those four is Rosario Dawson who is unbelievably over-the-top and insane in this role, and I don’t particularly mean that in a good way. Usually in any other movie, it would be awesome to see her chewing up the scenery and acting like a cracked-out, nutty drug-addict, but when you compare her role to the rest of the movie, she really feels out-of-place. I know she’s trying to give us a serious, heartfelt portrait of a messed-up, vindictive women, but it’s so goofy, it seems like she’s even trying too hard. Once again, another wonderful talent, that I’m feeling bad for, all because she showed up in a piece of garbage like this.
No offense to all of you faith-based viewers out there, but it’s the truth. Sorry, God.
Consensus: Every member of the cast seems to be trying to make Gimme Shelter at least somewhat interesting, but they all end-up falling on dull-ends because all the movie cares about is its message and that’s it. Nothing else really matters.
2 / 10 = Crapola!!