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FOREVER STRONG: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
Rick Penning (Sean Faris) lives life like he plays rugby in the Flagstaff team coached by his dad (Neal McDonough); fast, hard-hitting and intense. When a drunken car accident lands him in Wasatch Juvenile Detention Centre, prison Administrator Marcus Tate (Sean Astin) offers him a chance to get back in the game by playing for long-time rival Arizona team, Highland Rugby. Reluctantly Rick joins the team where he must adopt the grueling training schedule and unique code of conduct that Highland's legendary coach Larry Gelwix (Gary Cole) demands. Egos clash and bitter competitors struggle to find the meaning of "team." As on-field battles rage, hearts are challenged and loyalties are tried. Rick must decide between the life he lived and the life that stands before him. - with a national championship on the line.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The father-son relationship that bolts this rugby film together provides the textured backdrop for a sports film that engages with clean story telling and enough character interest to make it stick. It helps that it's based on a true story.

Performances are tops: Sean Astin (of Lord of the Rings fame) is impressive as the head of the juvenile prison where Rick Penning (Sean Faris) glumly and sullenly spends his jail time. Faris is reliably on-target as the kid with more potential than common sense, who has to learn his life lessons the hard way. He has charm, but he's also stubborn. Faris, with a touch of early Tom Cruise about him, does it well. Gary Cole is charismatic in a powerful performance as Coach Gelwix, with a link to Rick's dad (Neal McDonough), and the supporting rugby players are all tops.

Some inspired editing helps propel the story and the cinematography - on and off the field - is excellent; aptly enough for a film whose core message, via Coach Gelwix is to be 'forever strong on the field and off'. The film sells its positive messages with sincerity, ultimately showing both types of being 'tough' - as in good sportsmanship and a mature attitude. Reference to the New Zealand All Blacks adds an interesting layer.

In the end, the film becomes emotionally gripping with its interest in the human condition - a universal exploration through specifics. Male aggression - when properly channelled - doesn't have to be destructive.

Published April 23, 2009



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

FOREVER STRONG: DVD (M)
(US, 2008)

CAST: Gary Cole, Sean Faris, Penn Badgley, Sean Astin, Neal McDonough, Arielle Kebbel

PRODUCER: Adam Abel, Ryan Little

DIRECTOR: Ryan Little

SCRIPT: David Pliler

CINEMATOGRAPHER: T. C. Christensen

EDITOR: John Lyde

MUSIC: J. Bateman, Bart Hendrickson

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Gary Sivetsen

RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes

PRESENTATION: 16:9; DD 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Behind the scenes (22 mins)

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Eagle Ent

DVD RELEASE: April 28, 2009







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