Reviewed by: Angela Bowman
|Director:||Ryan Little—“Saints and Soldiers” (2004), “The Last Good War,” “Freedom on the Water”|
|Producer:||Go Films, Picture Rock Entertainment, more »|
Crane Movie Company
“The greatest victories are born in the heart.”
“Forever Strong” is a film inspired by Highland Rugby’s legendary coach, Larry Gelwix and his unconventional training methods and practices. The film centers on high school rugby player, Rick Penning (Sean Farris) and the effect playing for Highland Rugby has on him.
Rick’s father (Neal McDonough) is a rugby coach who is about winning at all costs, and the result of his attitude is apparent in his players, including his son. Rick parties and lives recklessly, which lands him in a juvenile detention center. With the assistance of Marcus (Sean Astin), in order to get his life back, he agrees to play for rival rugby team, Highland, coached by Larry Gelwix (Gary Cole) and learns that Coach Gelwix’s attitude and approach to rugby not only vastly differ from his father’s, but his practice and training methods extend far beyond the rugby field.
When Rick is released, he must decide whether to go back to his old life, or to continue the new life he has found with Highland. The changes he goes through during this affect not only him, but others around him, in particular his father and their relationship. It is a story about family, unity, honor, integrity, responsibility and reconciliation. It is not just about rugby, in fact “Forever Strong” comes from Highland’s motto, as Gelwix believes the person is more important than the game, and his ultimate purpose is to develop young men who will be “forever strong” both on and off the field.
I have to say, for a person who is not a sports enthusiast, the first few minutes of the film had me wondering what I had gotten myself into. The opening scene brings you right into the middle of a heated game, and I sincerely feared that I would be fighting to keep focus through the whole movie. For those of you who are sports fans, I am sure you will have no problems, however for those of you who are not, I urge you to keep watching, as this scene is important to the story, and now that I have seen the entire film, the next time around for me will have no agony whatsoever. The story soon unfolds around this broken young man who learns difficult lessons, seeing firsthand, the results of his wrong decisions and irresponsibility.
I found “Forever Strong” to be a wonderful, heart-felt family movie that had many lessons and wisdom to share. I really appreciated how it reflected the energy of real life, how not only our decisions affect ourselves, but others, and not just in the obvious and direct ways, but in how their personalities (and decisions they make) can be the affected by their observation of our actions and behavior, however separate they may appear. It lets us know not only are there consequences for our actions, and that you should make the right choices, but it shows how making the right choices can still be difficult, but should still be done.
I would also note that if you watch through the end of the film, after the credits, the team goes through their ritual “dance” one last time.
For a PG-13 film, I had braced myself for some language, however there was nothing verbally offensive at all. That being said, there was one scene in which two of the characters are using the common middle finger gesture of “flipping each other off” and while to my knowledge, it is not official sign language, it is a type of slang for the f-word and should therefore be noted.
There were a few poolside scenes with young people in bathing suits, and kissing scenes, however they were tame compared to what might be seen on network television.
This movie contains drinking, reckless driving and drug use, however these behaviors and actions are not glorified, and are shown as negative.
There are a few fighting scenes and because of the rough nature of rugby, there is also typical sports related violence and injuries: a few bloody noses/heads, but not overly graphic.
There was one scene in which a boy was locked up in a duffle bag, and while this was intended to be a joke, and was funny, I hope that we can encourage young people not to copy this behavior, as it is potentially very dangerous.
The Highland team embraces family and unity, and while this is great, they do talk about the spirit of deceased relatives and team members being with them and calling on their spirit, which may be part of the Mormon belief coming through in the movie, however, you could also look at this in a general sense, like team spirit. Because it was not emphasized or embellished, I wouldn’t use this as a reason not to view the film, but as it may be offensive to some people or cause confusion in young people, it is worth mentioning and might be something that a parent would want to discuss with their children afterwards.
All in all, it was very clean and relatively inoffensive. The Mormons, I have to say, have done a great job in coming out into secular entertainment and presenting clean and wholesome entertainment that even Christians can benefit from. This being said, as many of their values align with ours, Mormonism does vastly differ from Biblical Christianity in other ways and should never be considered Christian or confused with Christianity.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: None