- Product Rating -

Forever My Girl

| January 26, 2018

At least once a month, I go to see a movie knowing that it will be a cringe-fest. When it’s January, though, that cringe quotient rises notably and the novelty of trash begins a wear a little bit too thin even for a person like me who always brandishes a MoviePass and a sense of desperation for going to the theater. Forever My Girl definitely has its moments of ironically enjoyable cringe, but a lot of its cringe is as stiff as a board, the kind wherein its stiffness is closer to rigor mortis than anything else. Despite the few giggles that I had in order to prevent myself from slashing my eyes with my ticket stub à la “Un Chien Andalou”, this adaptation plays like a Saturday Night Live parody that’s stretched out to 104 minutes.

Adapted from the novel of the same name by Heidi McLaughlin, this hilariously titled drama opens on the wedding day of Liam Paige (Alex Roe) and Josie (Jessica Rothe, Happy Death Day), the latter of whom apparently has no last name. While their respective families and friends giggle with delight over the wedding-to-be, Josie learns that Liam has stood her up, leaving her to cry with her gal pals at her side. Jump ahead eight years and Liam has become a massive country music star—so massive, in fact, that every single person in his vicinity immediately knows who he is. All he does is drink excessively and think of his past mistakes, and when an old friend of his—who wasn’t established at all—dies in a car crash, he goes back to Louisiana for the funeral, giving him a convenient excuse to run into Josie again and rehash the past with her. Drama upon drama ensues, the pinnacle of which involves a hot dog and flashbacks to childhood trauma.

There isn’t a whole lot to say about Forever My Girl that transcends the criticisms that one would lob its way upon seeing its poster. Oddly enough, for a movie to be just unabashedly clichéd almost instills a sense of fascination in me. The way in which it depicts the flaws of its characters is so simplistic that it’s condescending; the entire film is so idealized that not a single moment rings true. Similarly, all of the characters are caricatures: the tortured artist; the small-town blonde woman; the precocious child.

The people populating the film seem to be entirely unaware of issues that don’t directly involve the central conflict, instilling a sense of vicarious egotism to everyone and undercutting their already-lacking senses of likability. Despite Liam’s obviously having a drinking problem, not a single person seems to be aware of it, and even though he’s a womanizer who embarrassed his high school sweetheart by not showing up to their wedding, almost everyone is welcoming to him because he’s cute in that 2000s Disney Channel magazine sort of way. The only acknowledgments of how people would actually act in these situations are conveyed in the form of comic relief, undercutting any sort of grasp on realism that the movie even flirts with having.

Clearly, Bethany Ashton Wolf’s screenplay is drastically flawed, and while her direction isn’t as disastrous, it isn’t with any real positive merits either. The film holds no shortage of music-set montages to drag the plot forward, and several scenes are executed with such an excess of coverage that they’re jumpy when ultimately edited together. Duane Mankiller’s cinematography is that sunset-drenched Iams commercial aesthetic similar to last year’s A Dog’s Purpose, and the score from Brett Boyer is as toothless as the rest of the filmmaking.

But ultimately, Forever My Girl is boring, sometimes dreadfully so. When the buzz from cringing wears off, a hangover of cynicism instantly takes over instead. There’s only so much that an audience can be expected to endure when it comes to dramatic tension, and threading the needle with a piece of frayed denim just doesn’t give the support that’s needed. A collection of tropes doesn’t equal a developed story, and the amount of sweat on a guy’s t-shirt shouldn’t stimulate more curiosity than the characters’ arcs.

About the Author:

Hollywood Film Festival pre-screener and Best Social Media Presence for North Farmington High School's 2014 senior mock elections. Firmly believes that ".gif" is pronounced "jiff".
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