This weekend’s Valentine release Endless Love is ostensibly a remake of the 1981 Franco Zeffirelli film of the same name. After watching both movies this weekend, I can assure you that Endless Love is in no way, shape or form a remake of the 1981 film of the same name. At all. Even a little bit.
We begin with the “remake,” said with air quotes so forced I jammed a finger.
On graduation day, poor but popular David (Alex Pettyfer) works up the courage, despite his best friend’s attempts to dissuade him because of their differences, to ask out Jade (Gabriella Wilde), a beautiful, wealthy girl who spent all of high school hanging out at home either studying or being best friends with her parents. A party finally gives her the connection with her classmates she always wanted and, through a summery montage, she falls in love with the boy who made it happen. Their love, however, faces a rapidly approaching end as she will be leaving soon for a huge educational opportunity. Thanks to prodding from her overly-involved-to-a-damaging-extent father, she breaks up with David. But he is unable to stay away and eventually, Jade sees the error of her father’s ways and finds her way back to the love of her short life.
If that all sounds familiar, it’s because this is not, as it claims, a remake of Endless Love, but a remake, rip-off and complete and total bastardization of Say Anything as reimagined by a 14 year old in the middle of a sob-filled fight with its parents about curfew.
Other things happen too. Or not so much “happen” as “take place dramatically” because this movie is as blandly maudlin as it is boringly insistent that it all matters and is important. David is poor, as the movie insists, despite his father owning a seemingly successful auto shop and the two living in what appears to be quite a nice house. But David’s hair is incredibly greasy, so I think that’s supposed to be the indicator. Jade is boring nothingness and she, like her mother (Joely Richardson) and the other female characters (there are two: a blandly evil ex and a blandly bland brother’s girlfriend) serve only as plot mover-alongers while the movie explains to us what their feelings and motivations are. There is also a brother, Keith, a character I took to calling Formal Shorts as that was his base of wardrobe the entire film, and David’s best friend Miles, who despite initial trepidation seems to like and support David’s relationship with Jade while also trying to get him back together with the blandly evil ex. There is no reason for this other than this is not a good movie. There’s a dead brother, too. For a dead person, he has more story and character pathos than the rest of them.
The only characters who seem to matter are David and Jade’s father Hugh (Bruce Greenwood). Hugh is deeply involved in his daughter’s life and immediately hates this boy because of greasy-haired poor reasons. He starts out as overprotective if loving and immediately transitions to the kind of “my daughter is my property” father you only see in the bible and movies just like this. Jade only exists as property in this movie—either as Hugh’s daughter or David’s girlfriend. It is creepy. Mostly it is stupid.
However, the movie more than anything else is gentle. The music is gentle. The stakes are gentle. Even when David punches Hugh in the face, it’s gentle. The whole film was like an assault with a delicate weapon, like being beaten to death with a dandelion. Which is strange for something trying so hard to be PASSIONATE! and IMPORTANT! TEEN LOVE IS THE ONLY LOVE! There’s a half-assed theme of fighting for love, but the fights are so gentle, if it wasn’t repeated ad nauseum in the script, you’d never know.
Now the original.
And if you have not seen either, I wholly recommend viewing the two in this order because the contrast is so stark you may actually go blind. Watching the two in succession was like eating a dry piece of toast and following it by swallowing a live grenade. The original Endless Love is so bonkers it scored “Next Level” on the Mantzoukas scale and immediately won a place in my heart alongside Mariah Carey’s epic, Gliter.
As I said, the remake is not a remake. The two share only a name. For starters, this David (Martin Hewitt) is not poor at all. He and Jade (Brooke Shields) are of the same socioeconomic class and her family adores David until Hugh finds out he’s banging his daughter (Hugh and Jade have uncomfortable levels of affection in this film). The mom, Ann (Shirley Knight), however, is fine with their banging and watches it gleefully from the staircase. After Hugh forces them to break up, David burns their house down and goes to a mental institution. Years later the mom tries to have sex with him and the dad dies getting hit by a car. Formal Shorts is played by James Spader who wears no formal shorts. The movie is completely bananas and I loved every minute, mostly thanks to Knight whose crazy-eyed mother is so vastly preferable to Richardson’s desperate sad-sack. Unlike the remake, the stakes are quite high because everyone is completely batshit insane. Shields’s Jade crying hysterically because she wants a sleeping pill is a scene I wish I could set as my brain’s screensaver.
The only hint of similarity between the two films is the existence of a fire. Spoiler but not really because nothing goddamn happens in the remake at any point in time, but David and Jade have nothing to do with the fire. Formal Shorts lights candles in his dead brother’s room, the dad accidentally kicks it over like an asshole and the house burns down. Whatever.
My weekend of Endlesses Loves was more than I could imagine, a whiplash of cinematic contrast and a roller coaster of stupid. I wish it had never ended. It’s every breath I take. It’s every step I make.
Take us out, Di and Lionel.