Forever My Girl

I was blown away by the fact that this wasn’t a Nicholas Sparks movie. It’s by writer/director Bethany Ashton Wolf, who films this thing in her home state of Louisiana. It’s obviously going to appeal to the young adults. Anybody older than 15 is going to spot the many flaws of this poorly executed romance.

Liam Page (British actor Alex Roe) is a rising country star who in the opening scene, leaves his high-school sweetheart Josie Preston (Jessica Rothe of Happy Death Day) at the altar. Eight years later, it’s not just his first hit song the small town is hearing on the radio. He’s played sold-out arenas, with adoring fans, and a goofy, bearded manager that wears a “Styx” shirt, and grabs the blondes in the front row for him to sleep with after the show. But I suppose we’re supposed to feel for Liam because…well, when a groupie jumps up and down on his cell phone, he needs to have it fixed pronto. You see, it has a message from Josie on it that he listens to every day (not sure why he doesn’t just buy a new cell phone he can use also; I learned from Hillary Clinton, most famous people have multiple cell phones). We’re also supposed to feel bad for Liam because his best friend (and former groomsman) has died in a car accident, and his mom died when he was really young. Yet as my wife pointed out, “His mom died when he was a kid, and we see a photo of him on the football team, dating a cheerleader, so…he seemed to have processed it by the time he was in high school.”

When Liam returns for the funeral, he’s promptly punched in the stomach by Josie. We find she is doing alright for herself. She owns a popular florist shop in town. She has an adorable little girl, who we quickly find out, is actually Liam’s kid (I figured a “spoiler alert” wasn’t necessary, as it’s rather predictable, and the trailers tell you that).

What I can’t figure out about Josie is this — why hasn’t she gotten over him? And if she despises him so much, well…how about you collect child support from this rich country music singer? And lastly, she’s a gorgeous young lady. How is it there’s no other man in her life? She seems to always be moving around town with her older brother (we know it’s her brother because in the opening wedding scene, he had the horribly written lines about “Are you ready for your big brother to walk you, little sister, down the aisle?” It was almost like lyrics from an Elvis song).

That’s another complaint I have. Just as I had a problem with everyone in (Three Billboards Outside) Ebbing, Missouri hating Frances McDormand…why does everyone in town hate Liam? I understand all of Josie’s friends hating him, but this is a guy that is as big as Paul McCartney (everywhere he walks, people are taking photos, getting autographs, and going nuts over him). Somebody with that level of fame could, as Trump once said, shoot somebody in the middle of the street, and still have fans. So when a young lady at a grocery store sells him some booze and mouths off to him…it’s not the least bit believable. But that’s one of many goofy flaws in this movie.

Shouldn’t the audience watching this dislike him? He hasn’t talked to his dad in eight years, who’s a widower, minister, and nice guy. He left a woman at the altar that, although he may still love her, it didn’t slow him down from sleeping with groupies and fans while on the road. But…he’s stepping up and wanting to be a father, so I guess all is forgiven. It’s strange, because the novel is written by a woman (Heidi McLaughlin) and the writer/director of this movie is female. Why is it women find this story romantic? I’m as perplexed as I was when all the women found the horrible 50 Shades of Grey so romantic.

Daughter Billi (Abby Ryder Fortson) is adorable, and she has some terrific lines. A few of the lines were poorly written and aren’t things a child that age would’ve said, though.

I’m not a fan of country music, but the songs (by Brett Boyett and Jackson Odell) are serviceable. I did chuckle that the first two songs in the movie mention “whiskey.” Gotta love country music. Oh, and for country fans, there’s a fun cameo by Travis Tritt.

The movie did have a few scenes that moved me. One of those has Liam looking out his window and wondering what happened to his mom’s rose garden. Not quite as powerful as Samuel Jackson ruining his cheating wife’s rose garden in Black Snake Moan, but…

There were also a few romantic scenes, and some cute scenes with the father and daughter getting to know each other. It helps that he’s famous and everyone idolizes him. Not sure if he was some grubby trucker that just rolled into town, mom and daughter would be so quick to just accept him into their lives and welcome him over for an awkward dinner.

They’re a great looking cast, but not the best actors.

The movie is unoriginal hookum, that should’ve been shown on CMT or Lifetime; but crowds are going to eat this up. After all, Nicholas Sparks’ movies rake in the cash.

1 ½ stars out of 5.