'Endless Love' is non-stop bad

The Fresno BeeFebruary 12, 2014 

The only thing the abysmal "Endless Love" had going for it when it was released in 1981 was the Oscar-nominated song of the same name performed by Lionel Ritchie and Diana Ross.

The remake doesn't even have the song.

The new "Endless Love" is a sanitized version of the original that clings to the worst elements. All that's left is the story of David (Alex Pettyfer), a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, who falls for Jade (Gabriella Wilde), a girl on a path to a successful career. Despite a love so strong that it makes Jade skip like a 4-year-old, they are forced apart by her overprotective father (Bruce Greenwood).

Getting to the predictable ending where they will — or won't — defy daddy's rules is a never-ending string of cloying scenes where the young lovers romp and play like junior high school kids. Director Shana Feste — who wrote the script with Joshua Safran — hasn't noticed that teens are a lot more mature than when the original movie was released.

And speaking of maturity, Pettyfer is a year younger than his co-star, but he looks like a high school graduate who was held back a decade. He comes across as being much older than the baby-faced Wilde, which affects the chemistry.

Actually, chemistry is something they just don't have. One of the big moments in the original film was when the couple — played by Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt — finally consummate their love. The new version is laughable, especially when David sees a near-naked Jade and tells her "we don't have to do this." A teen-age boy turning down sex plays like a scene from a cheesy romance novel.

The original "Endless Love" delved into some very dark issues, even ending with a trip to prison. Feste treats the updated version as if it was being written to get a G rating. The worst thing the young lovers do is trespass at a zoo after hours. Even the film's big burning moment isn't played with the same larceny as the original. It just doesn't scream the criminal life David is supposed to have.

The father knows best act by Greenwood also plays flat. He's so unaware of the real world that when Jade asks for a graduation party, he's shocked when high school-aged guests arrive. Hey Greenwood, the '50s called and they want their father act back.

The story line is so simplistic, Feste has to fill the voids with music montages and inane dialogue. Jade's mom (Joely Richardson) must deliver lines about how David has inspired the family. Inspired? All he did was replace a carburetor and deflower her daughter. If that's all you need for inspiration, it's a great day for mechanics everywhere.

The new "Endless Love" is just as bad as the original. Feste's remake is an endless string of uninspired people and events that could have used a great theme song.

Movie review

"Endless Love," rated PG-13 for language, violence, partial nudity. Stars Alex Pettyfer, Gabriella Wilde, Bruce Greenwood, Joely Richardson. Directed by Shana Feste. Running time: 101 minutes. Grade: D-

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TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.

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