Oh wow, this’ll be rich. This is going to be a sappy, unoriginal Hallmark movie that isn’t made by the Hallmark channel.
The story looks like it’s about a country singer who returns to his hometown and encounters his ex, whom they don’t have a great relationship, abandoning her before getting married. To complicate matters, it looks like he’s got a daughter that he never knew he had.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Alex Roe (RINGS  and THE 5TH WAVE ), Jessica Rothe (HAPPY DEATH DAY , LA LA LAND , and the upcoming VALLEY GIRL ), Abby Ryder Fortson (ANT-MAN  and the upcoming ANT-MAN AND THE WASP ), and John Benjamin Hickey (HOSTILES , TALLULAH , and PITCH PERFECT ).
Now for the crew. Writing and directing, we have Bethany Ashton Wolf, known for unknown stuff. The composer is Brett Boyett, known for unknown stuff. The cinematographer is Duane Manwiller, known for unknown stuff, and the upcoming THE ROGUE (2019). Finally… um… according to IMDb, there’s no credited editor and I am not running through the six names under the editorial department.
Overall, I’m not looking forward to this and I’d rather be watching 12 STRONG (2018), but hey… gonna get it over with.
This is my honest opinion of: FOREVER MY GIRL
Eight years ago, Liam Page (Alex Roe) was about to get married to his childhood sweetheart, Josie (Jessica Rothe). But he had just become a famous country singer and left his town to pursue his career. Eight years later, he’s famous as can be, but his life is anything but glamourous. He’s incapable of being self-sufficient, he’s an alcoholic, and his life is a mess in private. But after learning that his childhood best friend passed away, Liam is compelled to return home at the cost of missing a concert. While he’s met with disdain from Josie and even his own father, Pastor Brian (John Benjamin Hickey). But something amazing happens when he learns that the seven year old daughter that Josie has, Billy (Abby Ryder Fortson), is also his own daughter that he never knew he had. Eager to mend broken bridges and to get to know Billy, he decides to stick around and be a better man.
Aaaaaaand it’s bad. Yup, it’s very much not a good movie. The worst? Nope. But… not worth it.
Where do I begin? The movie starts off innocent enough. A wedding is about to happen but gets cancelled because the groom up and left. Then it’s eight years later and we have our first problem with the flick: the country music. But we don’t know why it’s a problem yet, and I’ll get to it in a second. Then the concert is over and we learn a little about Liam. He’s a miserable wreck, a drunk, kind of unpleasant, and sleeps with groupies. Pretty standard, right? But then everything takes a hard turn in the downward direction. At some point, Liam leaves his hotel room to get his old-as-crap flip phone fixed and what does this movie do? The age old celebrity cliché of swarming legions of fans chasing down the celebrity, and going into a building where other fans just awkwardly and creepily standing and staring at them incapable of speaking.
Where do I start? Well, I made a comment about the country music, so I’ll start there. Let me very clear really quick. I actually don’t hate country music. In fact, there was a good stretch of time when I was borderline obsessed with country. I listened to just about anyone and everyone. Favorite artists include Shania Twain, Keith Urban, Carrie Underwood, Montgomery Gentry, Brad Paisley, the list can go on. So I know what truly great country music sounds like. Liam Page is not a great musician. The one song he plays in his concert scene is about as run of the mill as you can get. I can’t even remember the jingle. If even Shania Twain doesn’t spend her time sprinting away from hordes of fans, you can’t expect me to believe this bland artist will be the exception. Second of all, exactly how many movies do this thing? Are any of them good? They are not. Do you want to know why they’re not good? Because that’s not how people react, nor is it how things are done. I might believe that there’s one or two crazed and inconsiderate fans shadowing the celebrity and not leaving them alone, but literally dozens upon dozens? Give me a break. And even the most hardcore fans don’t stand and gawk like psychos wondering what their eyes look like in jars. They just smile a lot, exclaim being fans, and ask for a selfie. Not that crazies don’t exist, but to this degree… I doubt it.
The events that kick the story off aren’t compelling. Liam sees the news and shows that his old friend from high school was killed in a drunk driving accident. But… why does this scene carry weight? We’ve never been introduced to this best friend. Not even through flashback scenes. You can’t slap a blanket label like “best friend” and suddenly have the audience invested in Liam’s emotions and inner turmoil. If the movie dedicated some time in showing the relationship between Liam and his friend, maybe that’d be a different story. But as it stands, it’s completely unnecessary. Doesn’t matter if it was in the book, or explained better on the page, the movie doesn’t translate what was in the book. So it’s here where creative liberties need to be taken. Have Liam take some therapy about his alcoholism and his therapist convinces him to return home to mend broken bridges. I don’t know, something other than some random person’s death.
To top it all off, Liam himself is not a very interesting character. The guy is almost hilariously incompetent in everyday ways of life. Like, how to pay with a credit card, how to be conservative and modest with gift-giving, how to operate a smart phone, it’s wonder that the man doesn’t need someone to chew his food, spit it in his mouth, and push it down his gob for him. And to make matters even worse, Roe isn’t a very good actor. I won’t say that he’s atrocious or completely devoid of human emotion, but… it’s so rare to see. He’s so flat in his lines and his expressions barely change. I hate to harp on actors, I usually associate bad performances with bad scripts and bad direction, which could very well be the case with how this script is written.
Speaking of which, I don’t think I have enough fingers or toes to count how many problems this script. So… let’s test that statement! 1) There’s a character that’s introduced named Lidia (Rita Glynn). She’s gives Liam attitude that he didn’t remember her from high school. She never comes back to the story. 2) You know that cartoon cliché of old women taking one coin out of their purse one at a time and counting out loud? Yeah, that happens. 3) In one scene, Brian is saying how much of a failure of a son Liam is, and then one or two scenes later, he’s preaching forgiveness, with no bridge of events that change his mind. 4) Liam and Josie are supposed to still be on bad terms, he comments on her laugh, she says, “You don’t remember my laugh,” and then immediately laughs. 5) The brother, Jake (Tyler Riggs) only has a significant role at the end of the movie. 6) Liam sustains a random injury that doesn’t play into anything and we never see him inflict it on himself. Umm… okay, that’s all I wrote down in my notes. So… I got more than one hand done. That counts for something, doesn’t it?
Here’s a pet peeve that I have with movies like this, a movie about a singer and there’s still a tracks from other artists inserted into the story. This movie is about a country singer. Shouldn’t whatever soundtrack this movie needs to play in the movie itself come from Liam? Why do we need some random Little Big Town tracks in there? Let the composer for the score get creative. According to IMDb, Wolf was one of the creative forces that made Liam’s songs. Shouldn’t those be front and center? Have some confidence in your creations! Don’t let it get jumbled with work that’s already out there.
Other issues that I have are that Sam (Peter Cambor) the agent is a discount Zach Galifianakis, who isn’t exactly my favorite funny man to begin with. The downright disgusting pet rabbit care. Seriously, Billy never takes the rabbit out?! Rabbits need room to run around, otherwise they get agitated and start making a ruckus, and that‘s when they start biting and attacking you Monty Python style! And that’s only the tip of the responsibility needed for rabbit care!
So I’ve gone on and on about this negatives of this movie. Is there anything redeeming about it?
Actually, kind of. Thankfully, despite how bland and poorly written the script can get, Rothe does a pretty good job carrying around that charm of hers from HAPPY DEATH DAY. No joke, she’s just as charismatic as ever. Sure, Josie as a character is pretty bland, but Rothe manages to push through that and has a little bit of gravity to her, and the same can be said about Hickey and his character. But if there’s anyone that owns this movie, it’s the precious little Fortson. Oh my god, this kid had me dying of laughter. Okay, so again, kid characters like Billy are nothing new; kids that talk like adults. But very much like Rothe, Fortson takes the blandness and not only powers through it, but makes it her own. Or maybe I’m just a sucker for cute kids. Either way, I absolutely love some of her lines. “You weren’t exactly subtle, if you know what I mean.” “You’re not going to kill me, are you?” Trust me, the context makes it more funny than I ever could from writing it out. Still, the bulk of the charm comes of the movie comes from this pint-sized squirt and she’s arguably the best part of the movie. I won’t pretend to know why she randomly knows statistics about the survival rate of a crashed convertible, as I don’t see many convertibles in this podunk town, but this movie is so blessed to have this kid.
Overall, no, this movie’s pretty bad. Only a few slices of talent save it and provide any level of legitimacy. Other than Rothe, Hickey, and Fortson, there’s honestly nothing of worth. The characters are poorly written, the country music from Liam is copy and paste, human reactions and interactions to anything are completely ripped out of cartoons, marinated in clichés, and a myriad of other problems. My recommendation, no. Don’t see it. I won’t say to avoid it like the plague, as it’s pretty harmless, but I can’t imagine anyone getting anything out of it. I saw it once and that was more than enough for me. Find your way back… to another movie.
My honest rating for FOREVER MY GIRL: a weak 3/5
PS: Itching to compare and contrast the film from the novel? It’s part one of a running series, called the Beaumont series, all written by Heidi McLaughlin. Click the image below and get yourself a copy.