Forever My Girl is a film about a country music star who doesn’t understand how voicemail works.
It’s been nearly a decade since Liam Pace (Alex Roe) fled his Louisiana hometown. On the plus side, fleeing his town gave Liam the chance to become a country music star. He plays to sell-out crowds. His manager keeps him endlessly supplied with groupies and vodka. Apparently, he once got so strung out that, afterward, he didn’t even remember telling his father, the Reverend (John Benjamin Hickey), that he never wanted to talk to him again. The Reverend Pace did have some important news to give to Liam but … oh well.
On the negative side, when Liam fled his hometown, he also left behind his fiancée, Josie (Jessica Rohe). In fact, they were supposed to be married on the day that Liam left town. Eight years ago, Josie left him one message. Every day since then, Liam has listened to that voicemail. When a groupie accidentally steps on his ancient flip phone, Liam freaks and ends up running barefoot to the closest phone store. He’s chased by a group of adoring fans. Video of barefoot Liam goes viral! Liam doesn’t care. He’s just desperate to get the phone repaired because, again, Liam doesn’t understand how voicemail works.
(As we learn later in the film, Liam also doesn’t understand how to order stuff online. He doesn’t even carry his own credit cards. He’s a celebrity. People do stuff for him.)
Anyway, when an old friend of Liam’s dies, Liam returns to his hometown for the funeral. He doesn’t actually attend the funeral, of course. He just sits outside the church and listens to his Dad give the eulogy. Josie, when she spots him, proceeds to punch him in the stomach and then introduce him to her daughter, Billie (Abby Ryder Fortson). Billie is cute and adorable and 7 years old…
OH MY GOD!
LIAM HAS A DAUGHTER!
(Personally, I think it would have been funny if Josie had replied, “No, she’s your best friend’s daughter and she was conceived right after I called you and left that message…”)
Nobody in town thinks that Liam will ever be responsible enough to be a good father. They’re probably all looking at him and thinking, “How is he going to be a father when he’s still using a flip phone from 2008?” But Liam is determined to prove that he can be a good father and also to win back Josie. Fortunately, it doesn’t turn out to be too hard to win back Josie. Apparently, she hasn’t had a date in 8 years. But being a good father, that’s another challenge all together…
Forever My Girl, which is based on a novel by Heidi McLaughlin, is being advertised as a film for people “who love Nicholas Sparks movies.” Superficially, Forever My Girl may look similar to a Nicholas Sparks adaptation but actually, it’s never comes close to equaling the over the top melodrama of a good Nicholas Sparks film. If anything, Forever My Girl is such a mild and innocuous film that it feels more like something you’d expect to find on the Hallmark Channel rather than playing in theaters. You could easily imagine the film being turned into a television series where, every week, Liam would learn another lesson that would lead to him better appreciating small town life.
Forever My Girl is a sweet-natured movie and Alex Roe and Jessica Rothe are appealing in the lead roles. It’s a film that doesn’t feature people shooting guns or blowing stuff up and, for some people, that’s going to provide a nice diversion from the usual January releases. But, ultimately, the film is too thin and insubstantial to make much of a lasting impression.