"Gimme Shelter" -- no, not the Rolling Stones of 1980 -- is a film that would fail as an afternoon special on television. It's supposed to be based on a true story, but it's far from true, everything being several bubbles off of plumb.
"Gimme Shelter" might be the cry of the young protagonist, a teenager named Agnes Bailey but who calls herself Apple (you find out why later: if you have eyes, prepare to roll them). She leaves the home of her drug-addled mother and has no where to go but the streets. Well, she has one other place to try: the gated home of her father, Tom Fitzgerald. He fathered her when he was a teenager and never saw her. He wrote her a letter acknowledging that he probably would never see her, and Apple's kept that letter for 16 years. So Apple shows up at the Fitzgerald Wow! house and asks for shelter from Tom and his perfect wife.
But, surprise, she's pregnant, and within minutes of a bout of morning sickness, her father's wife has her at the doctor's office for a sonogram. Both adults try to talk her into an abortion, a safe, legal abortion that will allow her to have a life after being shunted from foster homes back to her mother's place of rape and ridicule. Apple will have none of it, especially after receiving that sonogram of Baby Bailey. So she runs away again, crashes a car, ends up in the hospital where God appears in the form of a chaplain who knows just the place for her: a home for unwed mothers.
James Earl Jones as the pastor struggles to fit into this role of savior. Brendan Fraser plays Apple's dad blandly. Ann Dowd, who played William Masters' mother in "Masters of Sex," plays the founder of the mothers's home almost believably. Rosario Dawson as Apple's mother mostly she chews the scenery. Vanessa Hudgens plays Apple only on the surface although it's understandable that she wants to advance beyond roles heretofore, including in "High School Musical." Ron Krauss wrote and directed the film with no knowledge of why. He keeps his cameras close on Hudgens' face and cuts quickly until the last, lingering scenes. "Gimme Shelter" needs a continuity director, a foundation of reality, and an apology for wasting watchers' time. Compared to "Short Term 12," also about troubled teens and counselors, "Gimme Shelter" fails again.