Ryan Little's Forever Strong is a friendly, heaping helping of rugby porn—in senses both erotic and non. Seemingly cast top to bottom with holdovers from Flaunt photo-spreads and David DeCoteau flicks (in fact, fans of DeCoteau's boxer-brief brand of cheapo-homo horror will recognize the film's lead, Sean Faris, from his debut in DeCoteau's Blockbuster Video fave The Brotherhood 2: Young Warlocks), Forever Strong is a charming enough paean to muscle shirts, athletic shorts, and Faris's beauty mark.
Yet what really gets its tent rising is the sport itself, which the film nearly breaks a blood vessel trying to recoup as the pastime of choice for rugged young American men. Dare you cross one of Forever Strong's rugby enthusiasts and they'll unleash a verbal tirade: "Actually Americans ripped off rugby, then added sissy pads and helmets," Faris's Rick Penning angrily corrects a bunch of his fellow inmates at the facility he's sent to after his second DUI conviction. And later, the film's token friendly (white) Rasta dude happily instructs a tyke on the side of the road: "Soccer is for kids. Football is for wussies. Rugby is for men."
Little's got an arsenal of post-Friday Night Lights techniques to hammer home the message: This ain't your nineteenth-century fop's "fute ball." As the opening theme song blares with all the power of a "Transformers the Movie" anthem, "Are you ready . . . or not?!" Hell, yeah, dude, we're ready: for that unholy mix of slow-motion and slowed-down frame rates that have overtaken action filmmaking; for those nattering little surveillance zooms that intimate some sort of documentary realism for no discernible reason; for rock dirges blaring on the soundtrack; for crazily overbaked low angles of balls sailing into the air and players thudding to the ground; for troubled teen Rick to spit in the face of his big, black opponent (later dubbed a "yeti" by some of Rick's teammates); for coach Gary Cole to shout "Get in there!" with unmistakable conviction; for Gossip Girl star Penn Badgley's wildly misguided tuft of manicured chin hair.
And hell, yeah, dude, some of us are also ready for Faris's unceasingly eye-catching wardrobe of this fall's line of skimpy sportswear, lit like Grace Kelly's nightgowns . . . Click here to read the rest of Michael Koresky's review of Forever Strong.