Woof! Forever My Girl is a bad movie. This pseudo-Nicholas Sparks romance about a country music star who walked out on his wedding day and never went back to his hometown for seven years never, never rises above mediocre. Unfortunately, our lead character Liam wasn’t aware when he left that he had a daughter on the way. When a friend dies, he decides to return home for the funeral and finds out about the secrets he left behind.
That all sounds like a potentially good story, but as executed in Forever My Girl, it’s really terrible. Alex Roe stars as country music star Liam Page and I will give him this, he can sing. Beyond his pleasant voice, however, Roe is a void where charisma is supposed to be. Roe is just a hair above somnambulant in his energy level, even in the film’s most emotionally charged moments.
It doesn’t help that Jessica Rothe, recently of the far better, far more fun and exciting Happy Death Day, blows Roe off of the screen. Rothe, playing Josie, the film’s love interest, working through some of the most leaden dialogue and dull characterization, at the very least, brings some life to her performance. I think Rothe is a future star but she needs to avoid making movies like Forever My Girl, where her star qualities are dimmed by having to play down to her co-star and the material.
The story of Forever My Girl, as I mentioned, has potential to work but as presented by director Bethany Ashton Wolf, in her first feature in 11 years, we get boilerplate Robert McKee clichés dressed up with a lot of extremely dull country music. I’ve never been the biggest fan of country music, like any music there is good and bad, but country music seems much more open to the mediocre than other genres and boy is the music here mediocre.
Alex Roe can sing but the songs he’s given in Forever My Girl aren’t exactly challenging. Some of the songs in Forever My Girl are downright laughable in their obvious metaphors and heart-string-tugging commonality. Country music tends to be open to high level cheese turning into big hits and I can see some of the songs here turning into hits if only because they are easily consumed and forgotten.
Forever My Girl further attempts to tug tears from your eyes by killing off both Liam and Josie’s mothers off-screen. This is supposed to be an important plot point but as it plays in the movie, the loss barely registers until it is forcefully entered into the film’s climax as a cheap and easy resolution to the film’s real crisis/real dawn, screenwriting short cut. If you can’t predict every moment of Forever Your Girl, you aren’t really trying.
Forever My Girl even throws in an adorable moppet just to make sure you have a reason to be tearing up throughout. Young Abby Ryder Fortson is the one actor who emerges well from Forever My Girl. Fortson is completely adorable even as her character only exists as a way of manipulating this dimwitted plot. The film’s ending centers on whether Liam will make it back in time to perform with his daughter in a talent show and again, if you can’t predict what happens you may want to get checked for a head injury.
Forever My Girl is a bad movie but it should give confidence to anyone who wants to write a movie someday. If someone could get away with cobbling together the obvious, dimwitted clichés of Forever My Girl and convince someone to actually pay to commit it to film and put it into theaters, you should feel good about your chances of getting a screenplay made.