One You Might've Missed #14: Forever Strong


by: Rebeca Surber

Finding diamonds in the rough is a wonderful feeling, but in order to do so, you usually have to watch a lot of bad movies. takes the pain away by recommending a movie that you may have never heard of, or missed when it first came out.

After watching FOREVER STRONG I walked away feeling inspired, alive and wanting to be the best “me” I could be. Though at times cheesy, FOREVER STRONG is an uplifting treat.

This teen sports drama, based on actual events, features Sean Faris as Rick Penning, high school student and hot shot rugby player. Rick is the best player on his Arizona high school team with his ice cold father (Neal McDonough) as the coach.  Rick’s leisure lifestyle is ripped from him after his second DWI where his car is trashed and his girlfriend injured. He is sentenced to become a ward of the court and must move to a juvenile detention center in Utah. His haughty attitude lands him a lot of time cleaning toilets in the detention center, ran by Marcus (Sean Astin), former rugby player and current rugby enthusiast. Marcus pulls some strings and allows Rick the chance to play for the infamous Highland rugby team under Coach Larry Gelwix (Gary Cole). Loving Cole in OFFICE SPACE I was a bit leery with what he would do with Gelwix’s character. I was pleasantly surprised that Cole could emote a strong, kind, grandfatherly persona without hamming it up. It’s actors like Cole and Astin that help keep this film from being overacted.

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Gelwix’s coaching tactics are the complete opposite of what Rick was accustomed. Coach wants to produce champion men, not a champion team. The team has high standards, morals and sense of brotherhood. The players are not to do anything that would embarrass them, the team or their family. What a fantastic way to practice each life decision, big or small. If only I had this bit of wisdom in my younger years… I would have survived 2005 without it being the most embarrassing year of my life.

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It takes time for Rick to see the drills Gelwix has them do makes them better rugby players in a “wax on, wax off” fashion. From landscaping the hospital grounds, reading to sick children and helping fix flat tires, Rick slowly learns how to give up the old way of “me me me” thinking to doing what he can to enhance the almost unstoppable team. During Rick’s transformation montage (I love a good montage – who doesn’t?), I find myself cheering him on and overjoyed he is turning over a new leaf. Throughout the year in Utah, Rick finds out how to be a friend, ‘listen hard’, cope with loss, and discover how to forgive among the long list of lessons learned.

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Knowing that in typical sports drama fashion, Rick will have to play his father’s team, I cannot stop rooting for Highland and jeering at the douchery that comes from his old teammates.  This movie is great to watch with family, friends, sports enthusiasts… heck –tween girls will go bananas over this movie for the good lookin’ guys alone. It’s a moving film that makes me tear up and celebrate all at once.

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