Ryan Little’s Forever Strong has been compared to other popular sports films such as Remember the Titans and Rudy in ways both flattering and dismissive: flattering inasmuch as the film tells an inspirational story in a way that resonates with a wide variety of audiences, dismissive because it does so in a fairly formulaic manner – the formula in question being established and entrenched by movies such as these.
Both points are valid. Comparing Little’s effort to the ostensibly larger, more widely known productions is more than an insecure attempt to turn a broadly targeted LDS film into the movement’s flagship (see how Hollywood that was! Did you notice Sean Astin? Aren’t Mormons great filmmakers?) or to ride the more famous films’ coattails to financial or social success. Forever Strong really does have as good and universal a message as Titans even if it’s not as emotionally charged as that film’s racial elements can sometimes make it, and the two demonstrate many other similarities. And while Sean Faris’ character Rick Penning doesn’t share Rudy’s overlooked underdog status, he does have certain obstacles to overcome before he can really belong on a team that is as famous in high school rugby as Notre Dame Football is in its sphere. All three films, and many others like them, utilize the medium of sports to teach lessons and tell stories that should transcend the realm of athletics and the ages of the players.