Tepid sparks fly in never-ending 'Endless Love'
David (Alex Pettyfer) and Jade (Gabriella Wilde) exchange tepid romantic looks in the remake of "Endless Love."
Happy Valentine's Day.
I suggest you go out and do something romantic. Make a list.
"Endless Love"★ ½
Starring: Alex Pettyfer, Gabriella Wilde, Bruce Greenwood, Robert Patrick, Joely Richardson
Directed by: Shana Feste
Details: A Universal Pictures release. Rated PG-13 for language, partial nudity, sexual situations and teen partying. 105 minutes
Just don't put the loveless, never-ending "Endless Love" on it. No amount of candy and flowers will minimize the damage this feckless film will do to romantic intentions.
The original 1981 "Endless Love" starred Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt as teen lovers caught up in an obsessive romance. (Or is adolescent obsessive romance redundant?)
"Endless Love," like Scott Spencer's book of the same title, dealt directly and insanely with obsession, the kind of blinding romance that drives a young man to think of inventive ways he can force his girlfriend's standoffish family to appreciate him.
Like, hey! I'll set their house on fire, pretend I walked by and noticed it, then save everyone and they'll love me!
See? That's the kind of nutty, hormone-inspired decision-making that made the characters from the original movie so realistic and interesting, especially as directed by Franco Zeffirelli, who previously updated William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" with loads of romantic obsession for a grateful Baby boomer generation.
In this new "Endless Love" -- directed by "Country Strong" filmmaker Shana Feste -- obsession gives way to shallower "Lady and the Tramp" class conflict with Gabriella Wilde as Jade and Alex Pettyfer as David.
David, 18, and Jade, 17, have just graduated from high school where straight-A Jade apparently has never been on a date. Even though she's adorable, Jade has been a social outcast.
She's also the daughter of a snooty, wealthy, controlling surgeon Dr. Hugh Butterfield (Bruce Greenwood) and his emotionally closed-off wife Anne (Joely Richardson).
On the other side of the economic tracks, David lives with his single dad, a car mechanic (Robert Patrick) who supports his son and tells him to fight for true love.
Pettyfer radiates blue collar scruffiness. (He's 23, but appears older.) Wilde emanates wide-eyed innocence. (She's 24, but appears younger.)
They seem like a nice couple, the kind caught between the pages of a Nicholas Sparks novel. They share some warm and tasteful, backlighted fireplace moments captured in PG-13-rated shots of intertwined limbs.
They gaze into each other's eyes. They go on dates. They even sneak into the zoo after it closes, those daring rebels!
But where's the raw passion that's supposed to propel them into harm's way? Where's the giddy sense of crazed abandonment that puts Jade and David on a collision course with Dr. Hugh's big plans for her future?
In this reconstituted "Endless Love," the young lovers come off as the sane and solid ones. Jade's mom and dad are the burned-out, upper-class hypocrites from "The Graduate." (In a departure from the original, a parent sets the house on fire, paving the way for an unconvincingly warm and fuzzy reconciliation.)
Feste at least resisted the temptation to cover the original Oscar-nominated title song "Endless Love" by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross.
Even that sugary sweet tune feels gritty and cutting edge compared to the endlessly tepid love to be found here.
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