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Gimme Shelter’ nothing more than a heavy-handed public service announcement

Vanessa Hudgens stars in the PSA—er, sorry, movie—Gimme Shelter.

One and a half stars

Gimme Shelter Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson, Brendan Fraser. Directed by Ronald Krauss. Rated PG-13. Opens Friday.

After co-starring in Harmony Korine’s polarizing Spring Breakers last year, former Disney star Vanessa Hudgens makes another bid for serious acting cred as a pregnant teenage runaway in Gimme Shelter. Hudgens isn’t believable for a moment as the sullen, brooding Apple, who gets no support from her drug-addict mother (Rosario Dawson) or her wealthy absentee father (Brendan Fraser). About halfway through the movie, she ends up at a Christian home for teenage mothers, and writer-director Ronald Krauss basically turns the movie into a public service announcement (the home is based on a real shelter). The “inspirational” movie soft-pedals its Christian message, but it’s still heavy-handed and clumsy, with some seriously terrible performances. Apple drifts through an entire TV season’s worth of troubled-teen clichés over the course of 100 minutes, and her eventual happy ending feels both unearned and insincere.


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  • A balance of strong humor with serious danger and uncertainty with a cast full of great actors.

  • Remarkably, the film gradually neutralizes its apparent protagonist, adding to a harrowing experience.

  • Ken Jeong has had scene-stealing roles as oddball characters, but a little of his manic energy goes a long way.

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