Forever My Girl
Starring Alex Roe, Jessica Rothe, John Benjamin Hickey, Abby Ryder Fortson, Tyler Riggs
The title sounds like a country song and the movie looks like it could replay on CMT for years to come. Forever My Girl is the first truly awful film of 2018 as it checks nearly every box for a stereotypical modern-day romance. Guy screaming girl’s name while standing in the rain (check), is summoned home by a tragic accident (check), realizes he has a child with the woman he left at the altar (check). “This is moving way too fast,” our leading lady Josie says, so let’s back up. Set in Louisiana, Forever My Girl is native, writer/director Bethany Ashton Wolf’s first feature film. Wolf seems to be aiming for the Southern version of 50 Shades of Grey without all the kink, but lacks one single original idea throughout the entire production.
Eight years ago, Liam (Roe) didn’t show up to his own wedding, leaving his hometown bride Josie (Rother) devastated. She left him a voicemail days later that he would listen to every day during his rise to become one of country music’s most popular artists. Tragedy beckons him home to finally deal with the mistakes of his past. The animosity between Liam and Josie is softened when he realized he has a daughter. “I said I wanted to meet him,” 7-year-old Billy (Fortson) says. “I never said I would be easy on him”. With the music world pulling him back into the spotlight, Liam must decide to grow up and take responsibility or continue running from his past.
It’s such a fantasy film with a predictable ending you see from the moment someone says, “he ain’t coming” during the wedding in the prologue.
British actor Alex Roe (The 5th Wave) is camouflaged with a low brim beat up baseball cap and reflective aviator sunglasses to mirror the image of country star Eric Church. The stereotype check-marks begin even before the film reaches second gear. Wolf depicts Liam as a moron, which I am completely cool with. (It’s high time there were male characters being portrayed as dumb blonds. But the endless scenes of the Liam asking how to use a credit card or how to buy things online feels quite unrealistic. “I’m not a full-formed human being,” he says. Neither is this movie. Another example that Wolf doesn’t seem to understand human nature; Her script has Billy saying/doing things an elementary school child would know better.
The narrative of the film flows like a conveyor belt. When Liam first reunites with Josie, she is sitting beside a tall handsome man. Predictable, it is later revealed (in dramatic fashion for the viewer) that man is actually her brother, and she has stayed single. John Benjamin Hickey (Transformers) has one scene where he tries really hard to cry as his son lay drunk, half listening to his confession. Even bringing his fingers to his eyes twice, but just like the audience, can’t find the heart to care. The entire town and cast of characters do not represent real people or an actual place. It’s such a fantasy film with a predictable ending you see from the moment someone says, “he ain’t coming” during the wedding in the prologue.
Taking advantage of slow box office season, a movie that should be on CMT or Hallmark, somehow gets approved for the big screen.