Ugh! I’m not sure what lessons we are meant to glean from Forever My Girl, but it’s something along the line of: no mistake is too big to be forgiven, especially if you’re a good-looking country singer with big-ass eyebrows. The latest (and likely first you’ve heard of) from writer-director Bethany Ashton Wolf (Little Chenier) concerns just such a singer in the form of Liam Page (Alex Roe, star of The 5th Wave, Rings, and the upcoming Hot Summer Nights), who became famous right when he was supposed to get married to Josie (Jessica Rothe, the best thing about Happy Death Day). But this being a movie, he didn’t just break off the engagement; he literally vanished from her life and their hometown on their wedding day, choosing fame and fortune over true love.
Jumping ahead eight years, Liam is a superstar playing arenas and seducing crowds with those smoldering eyebrows. When he learns that his high school best friend has died, he breaks off his tour and heads home to St. Augustine, Louisiana, to pay his respects and get back to his roots, all in the hopes of breaking free of his current bout of writer’s block. Not surprisingly, he runs into Josie and discovers that she has a daughter that is just the right age to have been conceived while they were still together. The fact that her name is Billy (Abby Ryder Forston), the same name as Liam’s late mother, isn’t just a coincidence.
And so, the rest of Forever My Girl is the inevitable, wholly predictable and utterly dull, low-stakes practice of Liam not only getting to know his cute daughter with the one-liners, but also getting back into Josie’s good graces (and the rest of the town by extension because they are of one mind). The other factor in Liam’s return is his father (John Benjamin Hickey), who also happens to be the town pastor and was going to officiate the wedding that never happened.
If this all sounds like something based on a Nicholas Sparks novel, you aren’t entirely off the mark. But Forever My Girl doesn’t even have the guts of a Sparks story to unexpectedly kill somebody off or have anything resembling true dramatic conflict. Apparently between the time he left home and the present, Liam went through a messy phase involving too much partying. Thankfully, he had his publicist and tour manager to pull him back from the brink. But what this moody, introspective country singer has truly been suffering from is “lack of home.” Everybody in the town knew about the daughter, and no one leaked that news to the press because they’re good people—just what Liam needs to regain his authenticity as a singer-songwriter.
Forever My Girl ends up being a lifeless exercise in appealing to country music listeners who don’t trust people from the big city and think there is some sort of magic restored by returning to the community that loved you before you were famous. None of these themes are explicitly spelled out, but then I’m fairly certain that spelling isn’t the strong suit of people who enjoy this movie. Feel free to skip this tone-deaf bit of nonsense.