Poor Apple. She's 16, pregnant and the daughter of a drug addict who had her too young. As played by Vanessa Hudgens, Apple is all piercings, ill-fitting dirty clothes and tattoos. And if she needs a case study in how life can go wrong by having a baby at that tender age, she can look at Mom (Rosario Dawson), a raging, staggering, yellow-toothed horror in her early 30s.
But Apple, with no more warning than an "I'm OUT," runs away -- fist-fighting her mother to get through the door. With just a little cash, the clothes on her back and a crumpled old envelope with an address on it, she sets out in search of the father she's never met.
Her affluent dad (Brendan Fraser) has two kids, a gorgeous French wife (Stephanie Szostak) and enough guilt to take her in. But the wife won't stand for it.
Apple then turns to a priest (James Earl Jones) and a shelter run by the understanding but no-nonsense Kathy (Ann Dowd). Does she have the good sense to take sanctuary there, or will she bring the problems of her world crashing into theirs?
Writer-director Ron Krauss embraces the grit but fails to find much that surprises here. Hudgens, leaving her "High School Musical" image behind, dives into the street language and angry, downcast look of the defiant Apple.
A better film would have made more of the dilemmas and been more honest with the dead ends facing Apple. This shelter doesn't seem to do much other than house pregnant girls -- no schooling, vocational training, state assistance.
It's the sort of movie whose finale leaves you wondering, "Why do they always leave out what happens next?"
PLOT A rebellious pregnant teen leaves home and bounces from place to place in search of compassion.
RATING PG-13 (Mature thematic material involving mistreatment, some drug content, violence and language)
CAST Vanessa Hudgens, Rosario Dawson, Brendan Fraser, James Earl Jones
BOTTOM LINE Hudgens embraces her dark side, but the movie treads too lightly dealing with tough issues.