Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Movie Review: "Lebanon, PA"


On Friday night, Mark and I went to see the movie “Lebanon, PA.” Mark had been looking forward to this movie for quite some time. He researched it, watched trailers, “liked it” on Facebook, etc. We were excited to see a movie about the area in which we live.

*Spoiler Alerts ahead….

The movie is about a man living in Philadelphia (my home town – born and raised) whose father dies. The man then returns to Lebanon, Pa to settle his father’s estate. While “home” he meets distant cousins/neighbors across the street that were close to his father. The teenage girl in the story, CJ, asks the main character if she could go to Philadelphia with him to see Drexel University (where she was accepted to attend). She ends up visiting a Planned Parenthood in Philadelphia and inquiring about abortion as it is revealed that she is pregnant.

Now, with that said – I will mention that I DID like how the doctor at Planned Parenthood presented her with many options OTHER than abortion – such as all the types of adoptions.

CJ wrestles throughout the story with what she should do with this baby. It’s made quite clear that she does not want to keep it. Her mother is dead and her father is urging her and her boyfriend to marry. The movie does clearly show the Pro-Life values of the Lebanon County area.

As the story unfolds, the main character ends up “falling for” a married teacher. They end up sleeping together a few times. I didn’t like this part of the movie either but understand sex usually sells. CJ is still struggling with what to do with the baby and rumors in her high school are flying around because she wants the abortion. In class, a former friend passes a note about her. CJ sees the note, gets up, and punches the former friend. She does this in the class of the married teacher the main character falls for. CJ is sent to the principals’ office and returns at the end of the day to her classroom where she apologizes to her teacher.

The story basically ends with the Lebanon County teacher taking CJ to Philadelphia for an abortion. You don’t know that CJ had the abortion at first and you find yourself hoping and praying she didn’t. As the movie ends, she graduates high school and she is clearly no longer pregnant. She is disowned by her father and living with the main character full time. He returns to Philadelphia with her so she can go to Drexel. He invites the teacher to come along, especially considering the fact that she has lost her job for taking CJ for the abortion. She declines.

Now, there is a lot more to the story… some small minor conflicts of sorts. Such as the difficulties CJ’s father faces as a single father and the struggles the main character has with his job and values.

I did like seeing familiar areas such as Cedar Crest high school, route 322, farmland, route 419, etc. I even liked the references to “Eagle Farms” (aka Turkey Hill).

I did not like that abortion took over the story.

I did not like that the teacher committed adultery.

I did not like that the teacher took CJ for the abortion simply because when she was CJ’s age she had an abortion.

I did not like that CJ chose to have the abortion when she could have given the baby up for adoption. HOWEVER, I did like that the movie showed that CJ at least wrestled with the decision and didn’t just immediately resort to having the abortion.

I did not like that Philadelphia was represented as an abortion center. Yes, you can get abortions in Lebanon County.

I do think the film was good – but the message was poor. I think it hit far too close to home. Especially considering the Philadelphia/Lebanon County Connection. After five years of infertility, seeing a movie about abortion wasn’t exactly ideal. Furthermore, I’d like to note that there was absolutely no indication that abortion would be a “character” in this film.

At the end of the movie there was Q&A with the producer – we declined. Coming out of the theatre is when we ran into the reporter. The more I think about the movie the more frustrated I get that a TEACHER took a STUDENT for an abortion, that upsets me even more than the abortion itself.

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