Forever A Mediocre Love Story

Forever My Girl

 

Another weekend, another massive launch of movies and this weekend my reviews start with a little romance to spice up January. I’m talking about Forever My Girl, the movie utilizing Nicholas Sparks name to rope customers in.  The trailers make this one to look cute and another generic romance movie, but you never know what will come out of the fancy wood work of Hollywood.  Robbie K is back with another review to help you out with selecting your viewing choices.  Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

 

Cute:  The trailers didn’t lie at how adorable this movie is.  While many will flock to the gritty action films of darkness and bullets, others will enjoy the calmer nature of this film.  The film is that same cute mush that romance movies bring, filled with both family morals and promises of true love surviving anything. As down home family life begins to settle on the screen, my audience members oohed and ahhed at all the sympathetic madness the film brought in spades.  Yet the cutest thing in this movie is adorable little girl that ties everyone together, and speaking of which…

 

The Little Girl:  Billy is by far a crown jewel of the film, a blend of sweetness and sassiness with great writing to help her stand out from the kid roles of Hallmark Channel. Abby Ryder Fortson was a perfect casting pick for the film, her high pitched voice, cute face, and silly antics a perfect reflection of the adventurous nature 8 years have.  She somehow managed to deliver her lines in a manner that was very fun, energetic, and not too annoying, which is difficult to do with a kid role. Fortson gets bonus points for how natural the role felt and not forced upon me.

 

Not Slow:  Romance movies often are slower for me, not only because of lack of action, but more so for how many tangents they go down.  Forever my girl was able to avoid treading down these diverging paths decently, easily able to loop back to the main path and get back to the love story at hand.  It keeps things moving, gives you the superficial thrills that many crave, and does it all in a nice 100 minute run time.  Exactly what the attention span of modern audience members want.

Jessica Rothe:  If you read my review of Happy Death Day, you’ll know I loved the lead actress Jessica Rothe, and this movie shows her dynamic abilities quite well.  Again the woman blew me away with her performance, capable of injecting so many emotions in what was such a simple role.  Strength, love, heartbreak, and hope are all components she portrays well in her character and does it in a manner that will appease romantics, while also not sending you into eye rolling territory.  While her beauty certainly draws your eyes to her character, I fell in love with the qualities of this character and more so how she seemed to fit well in the setting of the movie.  Plus, she was able to play a sentimental, romantic movie role that didn’t want to make me slam my head into the armrest.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Unoriginal: Sadly, the movie starts losing points with how unoriginal the story was.  I know, the original tale is essentially dead, but this movie really didn’t make any big stretches to be unique.  Much of the plot is a carbon copy of Nicholas Sparks and Hallmark, unable to blend them into any special presentation.  As a result, the movie is very predictable, with few twists to bring in any suspense or excitement to spice things up.

 

Too Many Plots To Balance:  All the mashing of romantic movies into one piece can sometimes be an incredible thing, but in this film… it didn’t work for me.  A strong foundation was promised by the trailers, and in truth it had a firm ground to spring off of.  However, one soon gets to see all the plots come crashing into a messy pile up of underdeveloped, half-baked moments that only semi-fit.  These entangled tangents didn’t do much for me, and all these shallow semi-stories left me wanting more. Had they sacrificed some of these plots and added some impasses, this charming story could have been more engaging and won points for more suspense to amp up the love.  I think there was just too much to work with, but too some more is better.

 

Too rushed: This goes back to the balance issue, but surprisingly I think this movie moved a little too fast.  I understand things move fast in a movie, but many films are able to create the illusion of time passing by, or at least putting a lot of struggles to develop the character in a short amount of time.  Forever my girl though, did not accomplish this task, with things settling too fast to: 1) be believable and 2) be deep enough to maximize the emotional response of the film.  In addition, it left little time for the secondary characters to flourish themselves or become super relevant to the plot.  It would have been great to expand on these roles, but alas there was just no time.

 

The Acting:  I’m not saying these were the worst performances at all, but there were times where the acting was a bit of a stretch for me.  While Fortson and Rothe stayed pretty consistent and at the top of their game, the other characters were not so skilled/fortunate.  Many of the country accents seemed a little forced for me, constantly teetering between impressive and phony.  A few of the actors really could not get the emotions off the ground, and others tried to force too much stress in their roles that came out at half mast for me.  Even the lead Alex Roe struggled to handle all the emotions his character had, sometimes feeling unmotivated to his character Liam.  Again, it’s not horrible, it just needed more polishing to really get things together.

 

The Verdict:

 

            Forever My Girl is sweet, angelic, and moral packed tale that these movies are famous for in this Hollywood, cinematic world.  A charming cast with a moving plot are the highlights of this movie, and a good filler for those waiting for the steamier stories to come.  However, this glorified Hallmark movie suffers from too many plots coming together and an improper balance to handle them.  The result was a very rushed movie where characters, acting, and sub-plots all suffered from their inability to decide on the plot.  Therefore, this culmination, while entertaining, suffers a lot from this fast paced approach and leave one wanting more out of this film. 

 

My scores are:

Drama/Music/Romance: 6.5

Movie Overall: 4.0

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Half A Good Story, A Half A Typical Spark Tale

THe longest ride

Every year we get another Nicholas Sparks movie. These movies try to emphasize “ true love”, but are usually simplistic mushy plots, where eye candy fills the screen. Well this weekend I dive into the dark, surround sound trenches to review his latest installment, The Longest Ride. Out of annoyance, I quickly lowered my expectations at what was in store. What is in store? Read on to find out.

Most know what to expect from Sparks, a good-looking boy and girl meet up and magically start a romance. One of our characters is the perfect specimen of looks, sensitivity, and romance that drives the ideal romance, until it goes to pot for some reason eventually working out in the end. This is only partially the case, the tale of Sophia (Britt Robertson) and Luke (Scott Eastwood) act out following the typical Sparks plot. The beautiful people form another ideal couple that women idealize where chiseled abs, a handsome face are complemented by incredible feats of consideration and sincerity. Naturally I rolled my eyes at the drastically overplayed perfection, but there were many enchanted by the stereotypical romance he painted.

A “nice” distraction that spices things up are the hot scenes, which you can guess involve sex. This movie sex ,starts with another shower scene filled with plenty of butts, and evolves to her riding the bull after he rides the animal of the same name. Some may find it hot, but I found it shallow, pointless, and a waste screen time.

You might think that there are some surprise twists in this half of the story, something that makes you say OH MY GOD. Sophia and Luke’s tale unfortunately has little to shock you, foreshadowing revealing all that is to come in the tale, with the only mystery about when it would happen. I can’t deny this was one of my favorite endings, but it took a bit to get to the ending.

However, there is a saving grace for this film and that is the second story of Ira and Ruth. The tale of the 1940’s relationship could have been a movie by itself, truly showing a developing relationship and the troubles they face. This was the type of relationship I like to see, emphasizing care and compassion for the one you want to share your life with it. The gifts were heartfelt, a tribute to the love they truly felt only to be undermined by the struggles they faced. It was real, and an example of the type of relationship I pray many actually get instead of the shallower loves seen in most movies. This relationship was obviously to show how much love has changed, the comparison illustrating the differences between real and superficial love. Obviously this was the meant to drive Sophia and Luke’s relationship and overcome their few challenges, but it was the more engaging and emotional of the tales.

Despite the great morals, sweet romance, and good looks though what else does this movie have in store. In terms of positives, the beautiful settings of North Carolina will take your breath away and offer you a taste of the country life. I also felt the camera work and sound editing did a nice job combining their talents to bring out the emotional spectrum. Many times the music was more emotional than the actual acting, the orchestra work nearly bringing a few tears to this reviewer’s eyes. The acting is also decent, especially in terms of the young Ira and Rose (Jack Huston and Oona Chaplin) who really brought their characters to life. I felt great chemistry between these two, almost as if they were really in love and a married couple, something I normally don’t say.

As for negatives, I’ve already mentioned a few. First off is that the tale is predictable and still follow closely to the Spark’s formula. I know to expect it, but that doesn’t mean I can’t dock the score for unoriginality, which this movie is. In addition the movie was a little too long for me. Again the editing needs to work on what is necessary. I’ll go ahead and say that a 2 hour Spark’s romance is not necessary. There was not enough drive to carry my attention for the whole time, and half of the scenes, especially with her sorority life, could have been left to the director’s cut.

The Longest Ride is definitely not the perfect film, and in the end is another Nicholas Spark’s novel come to life. Yet I can say it is one of my favorite tales of this author, but only due to the first half of the film. I would have liked to have seen more integration of the two tales, but I was pleased with the balance overall. Is it worth a trip to the theater? Not really, but it is a decent romance film definitely good for a RedBox rent. The recommended audience are those that love Nicholas Sparks, want to see romance, or are just looking to stare at beautiful people.

My Scores are:

Drama/Romance: 7.5-8.0

Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0