FOREVER MY GIRL ½
2018, PG-13, 104 mins.
Alex Roe as Liam Page / Jessica Rothe as Josie / John Benjamin Hickey as Pastor Brian / Abby Ryder Fortson as Billy / Tyler Riggs as Jake / Peter Cambor as Sam / Gillian Vigman as Doris / Morgan Alexandria as Kiera
Written and directed by Bethany Ashton Wolf
FOREVER MY GIRL is a walking cliché factory that's a nearly unendurable watch checking bore simply by how utterly predictable the narrative becomes with each waking moment.
Based on the
Heidi McLaughlin novel, the film seems like it's cherry picking the worst
elements of the most forgettable Nicholas Sparks film adaptations and
gathering them together to make something so dramatically bland and
lifeless that I had to constantly remind myself during my screening that I
had to care about what was going on.
I have no problem with the romance genre, especially when they're
entries are done right, but FOREVER MY GIRL leaves no formulaic stone left unturned,
resulting in it barely achieving the moniker of a schmaltzy and
manipulative made for TV Hallmark movie of the week.
That's not to say
that this film has zero redeeming qualities.
It stars the extremely appealing Jessica Rothe, who gave, for my
money, a thanklessly solid performance in last year's thanklessly good
GROUNDHOG DAY knock-off HAPPY DEATH
DAY. She carried
that horror-thriller quite admirably on her shoulders, but even her fresh
faced demeanor and ample on screen charisma can save this weepy stinker,
mostly because FOREVER MY GIRL mournfully saddles her with an archaic
movie troupe character of the emotionally vulnerable single mother that's
waiting to be swept off of her feet and rescued by a man that can truly
take care of her. Have we pathetically reached a stage in contemporary
cinema when stale and overused gender roles like this are still handed
down to actresses in romance dramas? Any
woman that sees this film should cry foul and demand a refund.
Rothe's character stands around throughout much of this film like a
prize waiting to be dominated and won by a plucky male suitor, which does
Rothe's skills as an actress a disservice.
character starts off the film being dumped on her wedding day...so there's
that. As the film opens in
small town Louisiana we meet bride-to-be Josie (Rothe) as she's about to
be wed to her fiancé, Liam (Alex Roe), an up and coming country music
star poised for superstardom. Unfortunately
for Josie, Liam fails to show up to the wedding without any reason given,
leaving Josie a predictable emotional mess.
The film then flash forwards eight years, during which time Liam
has become a massive success as a touring singer and one of the biggest
country acts in America, but he's faced with dealing with his past back
home when he learns that one of his old pals (and the one that was to be
his best man at his wedding) has been killed in a car accident, which
means that Liam has to deal with returning home for the funeral.
Josie does the right thing when they cross paths...by punching him
right in the gut.
After that rude
awakening, Liam decides to lay low and stay with his father, who also
happens to be the town pastor (John Benjamin Hickey) and has grown
increasingly upset that his son has forgotten his roots as he climbed the
latter of billboard success and achieved wealth and fame.
Of course, Liam decides to make a go of it and visits a local
flower shop that - wouldn't ya know it? - Josie also owns and
operates. Very soon, he
learns that his ex-fiancé had a baby that is now seven years old, Billy (Abby
Ryder Fortson), which unavoidably means that he is the father, leaving him
even more guilt ridden that he abandoned Josie all those years ago (she
found out about her pregnancy two weeks after he rudely bailed).
Now, Josie did try to contact Liam, but he never returned her call,
but because this film needs to humanize this loser, he still carries
around the old school flip phone that contains her original message on it,
which he listens to daily. It
doesn't take a fortune teller to predict that Liam yearns to spend time
with his daughter and that she takes a liking to him, which leads to Josie
taking a newfound liking to Liam...and so on and so on.
obviousness of FOREVER MY GIRL is positively head spinning at times.
If you guessed - without seeing this film and only by my basic plot
description - that the daughter and father would find a manner to come
together through a mutual shared love of music then - BINGO! - you
guessed correctly. You would
have also guessed correctly if you believed that the once cold shouldered
Josie would eventually lower her defensive guards against Liam because - gosh
darn it - he sure seems like a natural father with the daughter he
never knew he had. Plus,
they're so damn cute together making music.
Now, this wouldn't be a Nicholas Sparksian clone if ample barriers
didn't rear their ugly heads to serve as stumbling blocks for Josie and
Liam finally rekindling their love, and well before the film ended and the
final credits started rolling it was easy to deduce what trajectory
this plot was headed. Very
few romance films are on such pitiful levels of autopilot as much as
FOREVER MY GIRL.
like this can be saved by the amiability of the lead performers and by the
sizzling chemistry they share, but FOREVER MY GIRL also fumbles the ball
in this respect. Roe is so
vanilla bland in what should have been a devilishly charming rogue
character that you have to wonder what millions of country music fans -
and Josie - ever saw in this guy, outside of his handsome outward facade.
This dude is also not really worthy of the redemptive arc that this
film tries to methodically cram down our collective throats, seeing as his
loathsome act of leaving his bride at the alter is fairly unforgivable.
Rothe herself is perhaps the only element that kept me modestly
invested here, but the Denver born actress seems totally disinterested in
her role and appearing in the film, which consequently registers in the
genuine lack of heat that she shares with her co-star.
You also know a film is in serious trouble when it struggles to
find ways to brings its pair of doomed lovers back together.
The manner that the plot uses - as hilarious as this sounds -
Liam's complete inability to perform a Heimlich Maneuver to another
choking character as a means to help propel the narrative forward to a
series of misunderstandings, and then reconciliation is beyond desperate
virtually no hidden layers of unpredictable depth to the characters and
the dime-a-dozen story they populate all throughout FOREVER MY GIRL.
This movie is like a cheesy Valentine's Day card that you pick up
and instantly foresee the sappy and sugar coated inspirational love
message buried within it before you open it.
There's nothing inherently offensive about a movie with noble
minded messages of family values, learning to accept and move on from past
mistakes, and finding happiness in unexpected places, but FOREVER MY GIRL
portrays these themes with the subtlety of a sucker punch to the throat.
I will say this in the film's defense: Rothe and Roe are really, really
good looking people. They're
really easy on the eyes. The
film they're in, though, really gave me a migraine for all the
incredulous and bored out of my kind eye rolling I did while watching it.