Movie Review: Forever Strong

Soccer is for sissies, football is for boys, and rugby is for men.

Rick is a young man who plays rugby, but acts like a boy. He loses his temper, he hangs out with the wrong crowd, and is as arrogant as they come. Like proverbs says though, with Pride, comes the fall.
And oh how Rick falls. He falls so hard, and so deep, he lands in a juvenile detention center and will remain there until a change in behavior is observed. Instead of shaping up however, he turns for the worse. He picks fights with inmates, and does not observe the center’s rules. The center assistant, Marcus, decides to attempt to help Rick out, and gets him playing on another rugby team. The only bugger is, this is the rival team of Rick’s school.
Coach Gelwix and Marcus begin to teach Rick what it means to be a man, and how to act as one. Rick now has a decision to make. Will he stay loyal to his father and school? Or will he remain true to what he now knows what is right? Will he go back to bad habits? Or will he continue on the path he is leading?

He has to decide, if will he remain forever strong.

Things I liked
This movie is a coming of age tale about a young man who has to beat his pride before it beats him. Rick learns throughout this film life is not just about himself. That a team isn’t about winning, but about character. He learns to forgive, to submit, and to stand strong for the truth. All traits which are admirable and scriptural.

This would never happen however, without mentors. Marcus and Gelwix feed wisdom to Rick constantly. They give him a second chance, and a third chance, and a fourth… The provide grace and compassion to Rick, even when he doesn’t deserve it in the least. Coach Gelwix is a man to take special note of. He tells Rick:

God doesn’t make a no-good anything.

In one of his lawnchair sessions, saying that everyone has a purpose. He brings a team together based not upon winning games, but on winning characters.

“I’m more interested in turning out champion boys than champion teams.”

The coach binds the team together based upon principles of character, not plays in a book. We see them do charity activities in addition to playing the game.

The rival team Rick is a part of is one of incredible quality. The young men, for the most part, are very patient with Rick, giving him an example and forgiveness when again, he deserves none and attacks many teammates. They know how to have fun too, pulling pranks on others, and doing it all in a clean and harmless way. In tragedy too, they rally around, and comfort each other like brothers. Their mantra is this… and they stick to it.

We only have one real rule – don’t do anything that would embarrass you, the team, or your family.

Things I didn’t like
An early scene has a bunch of guys and gals at a pool party. All the girls had bikinis, and there were a few close ups. All of the people are drinking, and most quite drunk. It is worth noting however, the results of these actions show how terrible the consequences are.

One guy gives another “the finger”.

A guy gets hit by a car. And another person is flung from a car. We see their body in a fence later.

If you have never seen rugby, know it is a very physical sport, and they hit each other hard. Something to be aware of. Some blood is shown on a few players during the game because of the nature of the sport.

Closing Thoughts

I want you to be forever strong on the field so you will be forever strong off it.

Coach Gelwix tells this to his players right before a game. He gives them context for life, not just a sport. A context where we are to live in a manner which puts others above self. Sound familiar?

Forever Strong tells a powerful tale of a boy who fell, and through the guidance, counsel, and love of others is built into a man. It tells of a team which is focused on each other more than winning a game. It tells of second chances, and everyone should be given one.
It is a rough and tumble film chock full of scriptural themes and lasting lessons. Lessons it wouldn’t hurt for us to be reminded of either. Because of that, Forever Strong is a forever keeper in my playbook, and should be in yours as well.
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