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I haven’t read many favorable reviews about this film on the web up to this point even though it received high marks and reviews from private screenings with film critics. Concerning the negative reviews, I’m a bit shocked once again at how quickly the “message” has been matter-of-factly passed over for a more rigid set of imaginary criteria for a good film. I believe that what most critics do not realize is that what makes a great movie is how it leaves you feeling once you’ve reached the end. I’ve alluded to this miss-the-message shortcoming in a previous article of mine citing that the “message” would appear to be more valuable than all the other movie traits combined. How many movies have been deemed unworthy of the mainline movie critics, while movie goers pack the theaters in record volumes, or DVD rentals fly off the shelves? Perhaps Christian movies fall into a completely different critique category altogether?
Here is a short synopsis of Forever Strong: It is the story about Nigerian movies Rick Penning (Sean Faris) a talented but troubled teenager who lives life on the edge. Rick plays on the Arizona Razorbacks rugby team where his coach and father (Neal McDonough) doesn’t ever seem to give him a break. Rick, after almost killing his girlfriend in a car accident while intoxicated, winds up in a Juvenile Detention Center where the guidance counselor (Sean Astin) convinces him to join the longtime rival Salt Lake City Highland High School rugby team in an effort to give Rick another shot at playing. He joins reluctantly, torn by the loyalty he feels for the Razorbacks and the valuable lessons and the disciplines for living a clean life he learns while playing for Highland coach Larry Gelwix (Gary Cole). Of course, as Rick is eventually released back into the custody of his parents, the national championship game between Highland and the Razorbacks is about to commence. At this point, Rick will need to decide if he will return to playing for his dad or go back and play for Highland.
It’s unfortunate that some non Christian movie reviews have given Forever Strong a weak rating based on story line and weak character roles. My feeling is that Forever Strong is both educational and entertaining, especially if you enjoy sports. Based on a true story, the facts behind the movie make it an even more remarkable film, especially the philosophies employed by coach Glewix’s and how incredible they have worked in real life. Perhaps Christian movie reviews should focus on critiquing what “message” a movie has to offer?
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