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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > Endless Love

MOVIE REVIEWS

ENDLESS LOVE (2014)

Starring Alex Pettyfer, Gabriella Wilde, Bruce Greenwood, Joely Richardson, Robert Patrick, Rhys Wakefield, Dayo Okeniyi, Emma Rigby, Anna Enger, Fabianne Therese, Mike Bland, Jake Schultz, Jeff Wayne Pope, Zechariah Pierce and Ryan Lewis.

Screenplay by Shana Feste.

Directed by Shana Feste.

Distributed by Universal Pictures.  103 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

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Endless Love

In the continuing attempt to remake each and every film from the 1980s, Hollywood’s eyes have finally turned to this 1981 potboiler.  Not that the original Endless Love was all that popular – critically or in the box office.  In fact, at the time it was considered to be something of a bomb.

With over three decades of hindsight, there is very little that stands out about the original Endless Love.  It was directed by famed Italian director Franco Zeffirelli (Romeo & Juliet). It was based on a then-fairly current best seller by Scott Spencer.  It was the third straight starring role for the just starting to bloom into stardom Brooke Shields.  (Though the two that preceded it, Louis Malle’s Pretty Baby and The Blue Lagoon, made a much bigger splash in the popular conscious.  In fact, Endless Love actually kind of killed her career momentum.)  It gave early roles to not-yet-stars like Tom Cruise, James Spader, Ian Ziering and Jami Gertz.  The love theme for the movie, a smoldering duet between Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, was a massive smash and is still considered a musical standard.  (Shockingly, the new film does not include an new-millennial remake of that classic hit.)

So it doesn’t seem the world has been waiting with baited breath to revisit Endless Love.  However, the makers of the new Endless Love have done something subversive with their remake.  They actually made the movie better.  Well, a little better.  It’s still not a great film, however it elicits more affection than the stilted original ever did.

Endless Love is trying desperately to be a tragic case of star-crossed love.  Gabriella Wilde is Jade, the gorgeous but repressed rich girl who has been so busy mourning her late brother and trying to get into college that she has been absolutely invisible in her school’s social scene.  (And I’m sorry, Wilde is much too beautiful to ever really buy as a shy, repressed, friendless, virginal wallflower.)  

Alex Pettyfer is David, the smolderingly handsome (and borderline brilliant) boy from the wrong side of the tracks.  Pettyfer, who has used his smug pretty boy attitudes to offend both critics and co-stars in previous starring roles like I Am Number Four, Beauty & the Beast and Magic Mike actually does a surprisingly likable job as the hunk with a heart of gold.

You know the story.  He’s had a crush on her all through high school.  She was too busy studying to notice him.  When he finally meets her after graduation and works up the courage to ask her out, they quickly become inseparable.  However her dad sees the boy as a distraction and does all that is in his power to keep them apart.

(If this is sounding an awful lot like Say Anything..., keep in mind the original Endless Love came out eight years before that movie.)

However, Bruce Greenwood’s dad is much more viciously protective than Say Anything...’s John Mahoney ever was.  This mega-rich doctor uses everything in his power – including lying, bribery and private eyes – to not only get the poor kid away from his daughter but to literally ruin his life.

In the meantime, some of the puppyish love between David and Jade comes off as unbelievable.  Her character in particular comes off as horribly needy, while his stoic devotion to love tends to skirt the line of stalking.  One fight in particular, which leads to a break-up and a car crash, makes little or no sense to either character.  The only real motivation that it seems to have it to put yet another roadblock between them.

Luckily they downplay some of the overwrought melodrama of the original, particularly the scene in the original where the guy was so overwhelmed by passion that he mistakenly burned his beloved’s family home down.  The fire is still here, but it’s handled with much more subtlety, a freak accident which he had nothing to do with.

While in the long run Endless Love still doesn’t really work – the emotions are still too pitched, the leads are a bit too gorgeous, the view of true love a bit too romanticized – the big surprise is that the new Endless Love almost pulled it off.  It’s hard to say it’s a good film, however it’s a lot more likable than its source material would have you expect.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2014 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 20, 2014.

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Copyright ©2014 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 20, 2014.

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