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Movie Review

'Forever Strong' sports the same-old cliches

By Wesley Morris
Globe Staff / September 27, 2008
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If you've ever found yourself sitting through "Hoosiers" or "Remember the Titans" or "We Are Marshall" and wondering, "Jeez, why aren't there more inspirational rugby pictures?" your day has come.

"Forever Strong" is a deeply standard sports-triumph movie. The triumph, though, isn't over paralysis, poverty, or the whole team being killed in a terrible plane crash. In "Forever Strong" the adversity is our hero's obnoxiousness.

Rick Penning plays wing for a top rugby outfit in Scottsdale coached by his dad. Rick parties, drinks, and thinks the world of himself. He's a strapping young man played by the strapping young actor Sean Faris, who was last seen in "Never Back Down," doing flying kicks at keg parties. A nasty DUI severely injures his girlfriend and lands him a year in a juvenile correction facility, where he beats up his fellow inmates, insults Sean Astin, who plays his instructor, but manages to get recruited anyway for the rival rugby team that cleaned Scottsdale's clock at the start of the film.

All that's required for Rick to remove the chip from his shoulder is the random death of one his new teammates, the very one who keeps pushing him to respect his coach, the intense practices, and the game. Directed by Ryan Little and written by David Pliler, the movie is a sentimental deodorant commercial. Your eyes might stay dry, but your armpits will almost certainly tear up.

Wesley Morris can be reached at wmorris@globe.com. For more on movies, go to www.boston.com/movienation.

Forever Strong

Directed by: Ryan Little

Written by: David Pliler

Starring: Sean Faris, Gary Cole

Running time: 115 minutes

Rated: PG-13 (thematic material and some disturbing images)

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