Give “Forever My Girl” credit for not wasting much time on the creakiest of plot devices.
Here’s the set-up: After eight years away from his hometown, country music superstar Liam Page (Alex Roe) returns to friendly little St. Augustine, Louisiana. He left his fiance Josie (Jessica Rothe) at the altar all those years ago, and hasn’t had contact with anybody in town.
So he’s surprised that Josie is now a single mom to a little girl. How old is the kid? Seven.
Even in his hungover state, Liam can do the math, and we can move ahead with watching this self-centered jerk clean up his act and look after his biological daughter.
Many movies would draw out the revelation for maximum bogus suspense: Is he or isn’t he? “Forever My Girl” just gets on with it, for which I am grateful to writer-director Bethany Ashton Wolf.
She has enough corn to shuck already, given the movie’s well-worn tale of lost love and redemption. The premise carries more than a whiff of the collected works of Nicholas Sparks; his novels (such as “The Notebook” and “Dear John”) have ushered in a whole film subgenre of separated lovers who must grow and hurt and learn to love again, because the hand of destiny or something is in play. I speak with hard-earned second-hand authority on Sparks’ work despite never having read one of his books, because I’ve had to sit through the movie adaptations.
For “Forever My Girl,” based on a novel by Heidi McLaughlin, it’s a matter of waiting around for Liam and Josie to negotiate the re-kindling of their bond, despite everybody else warning her off the guy. Even Liam’s father, the town preacher (played by the reliable John Benjamin Hickey), thinks his son is an idiot.
Meanwhile, Liam’s career as an arena-filling country and western act is on hold, much to the exasperation of his managers. But deep down, even these folks are good at heart, so oatmeal-bland is this film’s vision.
It’s the standard treatment of this kind of material, with a roster of forgettable supporting actors and tepid dialogue. With Roe and Rothe (from the surprise hit “Happy Death Day”) the film benefits in having two photogenic leads who are surely on their way to bigger things. If this modest effort is remembered longer than the average two-handkerchief heart-warmer, it’ll be because of these two.
“Forever My Girl” (2 stars)
A country music superstar (Alex Roe) returns to his Louisiana home town eight years after abandoning his fiance (Jessica Rothe) at the altar. No big surprises in this predictable romance, although the two lead actors are probably destined for big things.
Rated: PG, for subject matter
Opening Friday: Alderwood Mall, Cascade Mall