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Forever Strong – Rating: B+

Submitted by on June 8, 2009 – 11:57 AMNo Comment
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The first and, in most cases, only exposure that most Americans have to the great game of rugby was in the episode of Friends when Ross joined a team to impress a girl. With rugby being the most popular game people know little to nothing about the producers were able to get away with such a gross misrepresentation of the game.

Forever Strong provides a much better, a much more accurate depiction of the game. The intensity of the game is shown in the savage hits that players bounce right back from. Players will do anything to win and anything to stay in the game. In the opening sequence a player uses grass to stop his nose from bleeding- an all too common event in real rugby games across the country.

Players performing the Haka before gametime (photo taken from official movie website)

Players performing the Haka before gametime (photo taken from official movie website)

The main character Rick Penning (played by SeanFarris, Never Back Down) is sentenced to a juvenile detention facility after getting his second DUI and nearly killing his girlfriend in a car accident. Sure enough the prison ward use to play for the local rugby team which also happens to be the one that defeated Rick’s team for the high school national title the year before. Soon enough, he offers Rick a way to make his time a little easier – he can play for his arch enemy, Highland Rugby.

Rick’s cocky and selfish style soon clashes with the team first attitude that Coach Gelwix promotes. Eventually Rick realizes that there is a reason that Coach Gelwix and Highland Rugby have won so many championships.

Rick is put to the test when he is released in time to go back home and play for his home team, which happens to be coached by his dad. His newfound sense of ethics clashes with the style of his father (his old coach) and his old teammates.

While on the surface, the movie looks to be another sports flick, but in reality it is much more than that. Instead, it is about the struggle that goes on within the main character, Rick Penning, as he is forced to take a hard look at himself and must decide what kind of man he wants to be.

Overall, the rugby action is okay with the best scenes in the beginning and the end of the movie. There are a number of sequences throughout the bulk of the movie that look as if they were done with a helmet cam worn by a bobble head doll. You really can’t tell what is going on. The director was probably trying to emphasis the intense, hectic nature of the game, but the action was more confusing than anything else.

The problem with many movies based off of real events is that there is no real beginning or ending and they often last way too long, but that is not the case with Forever Strong. You get a complete story without feeling like it took forever to watch it.

Beer Pairing: Seeing that the main character in the plot gets his second DUI while still in high school, a tasty non-alcoholic O’Doul’s is appropriate.