Once upon a time, back in 1981, there was a travesty of a movie called Endless Love. It starred Brooke Shields as a 15-year old girl named Jade who falls in love with a much older teen named David, played by Martin Hewitt. Jade’s parents, being open-minded hippies, approve of the relationship at first, until it’s clear that Jade is terminally smitten and David, for all his smoldering good looks, is a stalker.
Jade’s parents keep David from seeing their daughter, which only drives him over the edge. In arguably the film’s most bizarre scene, David gets advice from a random teen on how setting fire to the girl’s house and saving her could improve his standing with her parents. The teen providing this horrible advice is–in his film debut–played by a squeaky-voiced, jean shorts wearing Tom Cruise.
I have to hand it to the original film: it’s terrible but the bad choices it makes are interesting and I’ve never forgotten it. It was also hugely successful, because Shields was a top model and her previous movie, The Blue Lagoon, was also a smash (and equally idiotic). The title song, which continues to be an FM soft rock staple, maintains its enormous popularity.
The 2014 remake of Endless Love is also bad but mostly irritating and utterly forgettable. The perverse touches that made the original intriguingly misguided are gone. Instead of it being about a crazy teen boy loving an underage girl, the issue is now that he’s poor and she’s rich. Also, the new David is obsessed but meant to be the hero, while Jade’s overly attentive father is now the crazy one.
From the first scene, this rehash doesn’t work. We open with Jade and David’s graduation: I assumed it was from college, since everyone one in the cast looks about 30. The “teens” all appear and sound like California model-turned-actors, despite the film taking place in Georgia.
David is now played by the pretty but empty Alex Pettyfer, who, after this and I Am Number Four and Beastly, needs to fire his agent. Ditto Gabriella Wilde as Jade, who is as pleasant but unmemorable here as she was in the Carrie remake. I don’t mean to come across as unkind but seriously, young actors: stay away from remakes!
The screenplay has been fashioned to resemble The Notebook as much as possible, with the wealthy characters predictably snooty and cruel, while the poor folks are all salt of the earth types. Even Dirty Dancing made all this seem fresher.
Playing Jade’s mean ole’ dad is Bruce Greenwood, a versatile actor in a thankless position. Greenwood can’t seem to figure out if his loony Father Knows Best is villainous, tragic, misguided or simply sleep deprived. Playing his wife is Joely Richardson, whose character is maddeningly indecisive about everything that happens. Gone is the unsettling attraction the mother had for David in the original. Instead, Joely has… um, nothing, at all, to convey except for confusion.
The one semblance of sanity in this nuthouse is Robert Patrick, playing David’s father and the film’s only clear-headed character. Otherwise, I felt bad for the actors, even as their characters thoroughly annoyed me.
There’s a fire in the remake, too, but how it starts is lame and what transpires is a dramatic change of heart for a main character that’s impossible to buy.
The cherry atop the cake for this exercise in contempt for its’ audience: the best thing in the original was the song. In the remake, we never get to hear it.
Score: * (1-5 Star Score)