'Forever My Girl'
It wasn’t that long ago that we finally celebrated the end of Nicholas Sparks’ reign of terror. Tragically, his spirit lives on. In ‘Forever My Girl’ we now have an unofficial Nicholas Sparks stink pile. The movie is absolutely horrible and unforgivably manipulative of a certain class, religion, and region of the United States.
All the stupidity starts with a wedding. Jessica Rothe (‘Happy Death Day’) plays Josie, an impossibly perfect young lady about to marry her high school sweetheart. Surrounded by friends and filled with smiles, she’s told the groom isn’t coming mere minutes before the ceremony. We then jump ahead seven years and that jerk of a wedding-ditcher is now the biggest Country and/or Western star in the world. His name is Liam Page (Alex Roe). Between stints in rehab, Liam likes to sing about drinking whiskey to stadiums packed full of people who can relate. Listen closely and you’ll hear that he also sings ballads about a love that he gave up and wants back. Subtext alert! Obviously, Liam still loves Josie because this is one of those stupid movies. In fact, he still keeps his old crappy flip phone (now held together by duct tape) so that he can listen to the last voicemail she sent him. He just can’t go home, though, ‘cuz it’s hard and he’s a big baby or whatever.
Anyhoo, Liam FINALLY decides to return to his hometown and the girl he loved after a TV report reveals that his best friend died in a car crash. You may ask yourself why a national news network would cover an incidental car accident in a small nowhere town, but don’t bother. This movie isn’t great in the logic department, or almost any other department for that matter. Liam ditches his tour and latest concert to get back home for the funeral. He’s so ashamed that he lingers outside the church rather than going in. Clearly, this hurt him. Not enough for Liam to even mention his best friend again after his death brought the lonely boy home, but that’s just because this is a stupid movie that doesn’t actually care about the death of seemingly the only black man in a small community.
Liam is promptly punched in the face by Josie when she sees him at the funeral, but thankfully his dad (John Benjamin Hickey) is also the local pastor, so he picks up Liam and takes him home. Pretty quickly, Liam learns that Josie has a daughter named Billy (Abby Ryder Fortson) who’s just old enough to be his own. Uh oh! Do you think Liam will be able to win his family back? Maybe even winning that family back will finally save him from all his troubles and inspire him to write the new album that his record company is begging him for? In a story even mildly inspired by reality, those things probably wouldn’t happen. But this movie isn’t based in reality. It’s a big dumb fairy tale romance so stupid that merely describing the plot is enough to make it clear just how off base and idiotic this nonsense is.
I suppose it’s worth getting a bit more specific. Where to start? Well, this small town in the middle of Southern Nowhere USA seems to only be populated by models and ex-models. That’s weird. You think it might be worth addressing the fact that a movie supposedly based in an ordinary place and ordinary people is populated purely by the inordinately attractive. But I suppose we should let that go. How about the fact that this Liam Page character is somehow the biggest Country star in the world (he tours Europe and is big in Berlin – you know, the heart of Country music!), yet specializes in the most clichéd and inauthentic Country songs that sound like they were cranked out in a half hour by some sad songwriter reduced to working on this crap? He’s also played with so little charisma and heart by the walking slab of nothing that is Alex Roe, ensuring that it makes approximately zero sense why everyone on screen seems so in love with him. (Not to mention that the only sign of his years of addiction and excess is some light stubble.)
That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problems in director Bethany Ashton Wolf’s screenplay. She piles on one soapy romance cliché after another. The kid is so verbosely precocious that she makes the kiddie dialogue in ‘Jerry Maguire’ sound realistic. (That shouldn’t be possible.) The Christian morality is laid on so nauseatingly thick that it feels like the church should get a cut of the profits. The cinematography looks like a cross between a shampoo commercial and a greeting card, and nothing like reality or even relatable fantasy. The lead actors share approximately zero chemistry, making it difficult to care if they end up together.
Actually, there’s nothing positive to be said about ‘Forever My Girl’ other than the fact that Jessica Rothe is once again the only saving grace in a garbage movie and will likely become a proper star once she gets a screenplay that wouldn’t be better served as toilet paper. This movie is a disaster, easily the worst romance spat out of Hollywood since the Nicholas Sparks nightmare factory mercifully closed.