By Will Ashton | firstname.lastname@example.org| @thewillofash
Endless Love | Directed by Shana Feste | Rated PG-13
You should know which one I’m talking about. The one that has two attractive, young, (usually) white, well-to-do people who fall in love, but are faced with some pointless problems that they overcome. They are generic, insipid, and usually have the name Nicolas Sparks attached to them.
Endless Love may not have the Sparks seal-of-approval, but it is this year’s offering of that movie.
There is no need to go into the plot of this one, but I’ll try to keep some level of professionalism here. Jade Butterfield (Gabrielle Wilde) is a pretty, well-to-do, privileged high schooler that somehow doesn’t have friends or a boyfriend. But David Elliot (Alex Pettyfer), an attractive, talented and smart young guy who somehow doesn’t have the courage to talk to her during their four years together in high school, adores her. As their high school lives come to a close, they finally cross paths, and seem to fall in love, of course.
But, oh no, here come the problems. For one, Jade is expected to begin an internship in a matter of weeks, and David, who, of course, is a low-class boy, doesn’t quite win the approval of Jade’s father, Hugh (Bruce Greenwood). Will these young, star-crossed lovers be able to live out their relationship? Will Hugh ever come around to respecting David? Do you not already know the answer to these questions?
Based on the, from what I have heard, supposedly good book by Scott Spencer, Endless Love is a remake of the 1981 film of the same name starring Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt. I haven’t seen it, but, from what I have heard, I’m not missing much. Why they decided to remake this film is up for debate, I suppose. But, if I had to guess, it comes down to money. Although the original wasn’t regarding as a great film, it was a hit (I think)—and Hollywood wants to keep its good fortunes a-coming.
Now, of course, the general purpose and intentions of a remake is to improve or readapt a story for a new audience or a new generation. There have been plenty of good remakes out there, even good remakes of originally mediocre or bad films. Endless Love is one of three (!) remakes that are coming out this Valentine’s Day weekend. I’d like to think that these are all young, promising filmmakers trying to re-adapt and update 80s movies for today’s audiences, but I know better at this point.
Again, I can’t speak for the original film, but Endless Love, the remake, is one of the most by the book and routine young love dramas I have seen in years. I thought last year’s Safe Haven played it too safe. But, hell, at least they tried to mix it up a little bit. They at least had an ending that woke you up by being insultingly stupid. Endless Love is just a bunch of nothing for a little more than an hour-and-a-half.
I think what makes Endless Love so insulting, above all else, is not just that it doesn’t mix things up— it’s that it refuses to do anything against the norm. It seems to content on being as basic, predictable and bland as possible that it almost feels like a game the filmmakers are playing with themselves to see how cliché and generic they can make their film.
Jade is supposed to be a troubled, complex character, I believe. But you would never know from Wilde’s performance. Her portrayal of Spencer’s character is about as bland and wooden as they come. So much so that I had to run to the bathroom after the film to make sure I still didn’t have any more splinters stuck in me. She brings no life to her character.
Pettyfer isn’t amazing as David either. But, to his credit, he is better. Pettyfer has build a career for being rather stiff and generic in his performances, as seen in films like Beastly, I Am Number Four, In Time, among others. But he proved in 2012’s Magic Mike that, under a talented director, he will pull in an at least decent performance if he really wanted to.
Admittedly, he is pretty stiff throughout the majority of Endless Love as well. But, admittedly, there are moments throughout the movie’s running time where he shows some personality and charisma, and I can see glimmers of that potential that arouse in Magic Mike. What I am saying here is, he’s not great, but he’s at least better than Wilde. But a tree could show more life than her, I guess.
Greenwood tries his best, but he appears to be pushed too hard by director and co-writer Shana Feste to be mean and intimidating that he comes across almost cartoonish at times. It’s not his fault, but it does affect his performance, unfortunately. The one person here who appears to act like a real genuine person is Robert Patrick, who plays David’s father and gives the only performance that feels like it is coming from a real, living-breathing person. And this is coming from the guy who built his career playing the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
I didn’t go into Endless Love expecting a lot. I know what type of movie this is, and I know that it has its audience. Based on the crowd that formed for its advance screening, that audience is predominately blonde white girls (just like the main character, OMG! It’s like Hollywood gets me!). I like romantic movies, believe it or not. I am a romantic at heart, and, give me the right story or characters or, hell, even just the right leads (I liked The Notebook based solely on the chemistry and performances of its leads), I can be moved by your movie.
But you can’t expect me—or any other audience member, for that matter— to just be moved by what you are putting on the screen right off the bat. I am not going to be invested in your movie solely because its two young, attractive people falling in love.
It’s downright insulting that this movie thinks that’s all it needs to get by. The only real fun audiences should gather from this movie is Mystery Science Theater-ing it at home, or even at the theater, which is how my buddy and I got through this experience. People should know better by this point, but if they don’t, then I guess I am going to have to wait till next year to pan the new Sparks movie that comes out this time next year.