Going to the theater alone on Valentine’s Day to ironically watch Endless Love while surrounded by couples is not among the most exciting parts of my life. It’s superseded just barely by the teller asking “Just one?” when I ordered my ticket then apologizing profusely after realizing how it came across. I quickly assured him of the nature of my visit: far from wanting a wistfully romantic experience on February 14th, I was merely excited to see what someone had referred to as “a movie so hilariously bad, it’s like Airplane without the punch lines.” Sadly, this was not the case.
Endless Love is a dire remake of a controversial 1981 film featuring Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt, about two adolescents falling deep into passionate romance. This new version brings the lovers up to a legal age and softens some of the melodrama, effectively declawing the story in the process and even removing the famous theme song of the same name.
Jade Butterfield (Gabriella Wilde), having just graduated from high school, is impossibly still a virgin and never been in a relationship as a result of an extremely studious school career. David Elliot (Alex Pettyfer), narrating the opening scene, describes how he’s been watching her and wanting to talk to her since freshman year, only a few notches down from Edward Cullen-league creepiness. Jade’s focus on her studies is partly a result of the death of her brother Chris from cancer (of course) and her father Hugh’s (Bruce Greenwood) coercion. David does, however, finally get up the courage to talk to Jade, and they hit it off. David spices up Jade’s graduation party by diverting the entire school to her house—one of the first things to catch Hugh’s ire.
It’s a desperately dull plot to recall, let alone write about—Hugh, who seems to pull reasons to hate David out of thin air, takes every available chance to sabotage his daughter’s relationship. He makes underhanded comments, tries to whisk Jade away at a moment’s notice, and starts digging into David’s past to try to find dirt on him. It is boring, paint-by-numbers teen romance at its finest, hitting more or less every single beat of the genre with predictable accuracy.
At the very least, director Shana Feste (Country Strong) has put together an attractive film with vicariously attractive sets and the now-industry standard of two actors in their mid 20s trying to play teenagers. The writing is not nearly as good, painting plot points and characters in aggressively broad strokes—Hugh and David’s cruel ex-girlfriend are two extremely vile characters, and every single other person in the film is a shining paragon of decency and kindness. Sadly, pure camp is not quite achieved.
The always-reliable Bruce Greenwood appears to be the only one trying to make this into the melodrama that it clearly is, and his exaggerated performance is good fun to watch. Similarly, while Robert Patrick doesn’t go off the deep end as David’s father, he still, as always gives a great performance. They are the only two noteworthy actors in the film, and it’s another reason why Endless Love is merely bad, and not any sort of memorable bad. It will be forgotten in a month.
True, there are moments of hilarity: the couple’s first lovemaking session is after David sneaks back into Jade’s mansion, and then they do the deed in the middle of a room with all of the doors open in the tamest, most PG-13 sex scene ever filmed. And yes, the fact that the movie takes itself more or less 100% percent seriously save for David’s token comic relief friend is ripe for some derisive chuckles, but at the end of the day, Endless Love falls far short of the amusingly horrible, and settles for mere extremely frustrating mediocrity.