Vanessa Hudgens’ quest to prove to audiences that she’s all grown up takes a strange, dumpster-diving turn in Ron Krauss’ intentionally inspirational “Gimme Shelter,” about a girl’s quest to get off the streets.
Hudgens stars as Agnes “Apple” Bailey. Of course, being called Agnes makes her angry, and you wouldn’t like her when she’s angry. She’s a rolling snowball of rage as the film opens, hacking off about nine inches of her long but gnarly hair and setting out to find the person whose name is scrawled on a mysterious envelope. Her journey seems perilous from the start as her drugged-out mom (Rosario Dawson) literally stands in her way. A fistfight ensues before she hops into a waiting cab, from which she’s kicked out of for lack of payment and trying to steal said cab.
Who wouldn’t feel sorry for this girl?
Apple makes her way to the swanky estate of Tom (Brendan Fraser), who turns out to be the dad she never met. Tom’s new life as a Wall Street mogul, complete with two new kids and attractive French wife, Joanna (Stephanie Szostak), runs counter to Apple’s scavenger mentality, and it’s not long before Joanna demands that Apple leave as quickly as she entered. But Apple lays even more drama on the doorstep when she discovers that she’s pregnant. Tom goes into instant damage control mode, prompting Apple to “turn the page” on this unfortunate incident by getting an abortion. Joanna even offers to hold her hand and take her to the clinic. Once they get there, Joanna drops the handholding offer and leaves her at the clinic, where Apple decides she’s going to turn the page as a mother.
After a night on the streets and a frenetic encounter with a pimp that resembles the late Biggie Smalls, Apple ends up in the hospital, complete with a broken leg, a few facial scars and a bit of salvation in the form of Father Frank McCarthy (James Earl Jones). McCarthy refers her to a group home for pregnant teens where she meets girls just as messed up as she is and seem to be fine with it, because they’ve found a place where they fit in. It’s there that Apple’s journey takes on new and tragic turns that will either make you cheer her on or ask for a refund.