“Forever My Girl” is too innocuous to be “bad,” but it certainly belongs to the category of mediocre, wholesome, vaguely Christian movies with country soundtracks that they’re hoping people will watch because they like those things.
Adapted from Heidi McLaughlin’s novel and directed by Bethany Ashton Wolf, it’s about a hot young country superstar, Liam Page (Alex Roe), who returns to his Louisiana hometown eight years after leaving his high school sweetheart, Josie (Jessica Rothe), at the altar. She isn’t glad to see him, and neither is anyone else in town, including Liam’s disappointed pastor father (John Benjamin Hickey).
A contributing factor to Josie’s antipathy: she was pregnant when Liam left (she didn’t know yet) and now has a precocious 7-year-old daughter named Billy (Abby Ryder Fortson), the type of movie kid who says things like, “Do you know the stats on surviving an accident in a convertible?” Liam wants to be in Josie’s life again, and connecting with his daughter might be the key to making amends.
With no one else vying for Josie’s affection, there’s little conflict to the story beyond Liam’s internal “What if I’m a bad person who doesn’t deserve forgiveness?” struggle, which, frankly, he should struggle more with. We spend most of the movie just waiting for him and Josie to patch things up, and for him to give a satisfying explanation for why he left in the first place (which he never does).
Some of the daddy-daughter stuff is cute, and everyone is likable enough. That includes Liam: there’s little justification for Josie to consider taking him back, but he doesn’t come across as an entitled dude who gets whatever he wants — although maybe I only feel that way because I kept reminding myself that the novelist and filmmaker are both women, so if they say it’s OK, well, OK. Anyway, it’s agreeably bland, and it has country music.
C (1 hr., 44 min.; )