Movie review: Watered-down remake ‘Endless Love’ has good performances

MCCLATCHY-TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICEFebruary 14, 2014 

Endless love

Paulina Garcia plays a single woman of a certain age in the honest and touching “Gloria.”

  • ENDLESS LOVE ••

    Rated: PG-13 for sexual content, brief partial nudity, some language and teen partying. Starring: Gabriella Wilde, Alex Pettyfer, Bruce Greenwood, Joely Richardson. Director: Shana Feste. Running time: 103 minutes. Theaters: Edwards 22 and Edwards 9, Edwards 14 and Edwards 12, Majestic 18 and Village Cinema.

Kids, this is not your parents’ “Endless Love.”

Scott Spencer’s novel of a romantic obsession so strong that it flirts with mental illness has had its sharp edges rubbed off, its dramatic weight lifted and its focus shifted in this adaptation from the director of “Country Strong.”

There’s nothing dangerous about this teen love on steroids. There’s no showcase sex scene, the selling point of the infamous 1981 Brooke Shields/Franco Zeffirelli adaptation. The kids here come off as perfectly reasonable; the adults are the problem — but even their efforts to separate the lovebirds are watered down.

Still, even without that tragic Romeo/Juliet edge or the hit theme song by Lionel Ritchie and Diana Ross, it does have a stellar cast who keep things real even if the lighter touches turn this into a conventional teen romance.

Alex Pettyfer is David, the car mechanic’s son who falls — hard — for the gorgeous Jade, played by the supermodel-skinny “Carrie” co-star Gabriella Wilde.

They graduate from high school together, never having spoken. But David, he’s seen “the possibility of us.” And Jade, shut-off from her peers, smothered by her family, is simply swept off her feet.

He rescues her ill-planned graduation party, and when he gets off on the wrong foot with her stern surgeon dad (Bruce Greenwood, terrific), mechanic boy David finds an automotive way to make it up to the doctor, fixing up the family’s ancient MGB.

Jade’s mom (Joely Richardson) is touched. Jade’s brother (Rhys Wakefield) is charmed.

Only Dr. Hugh (Greenwood) is seeing red. He’s got his daughter’s future planned, and the boy is interfering.

The way this story is supposed to work is that Dad’s threats and efforts to keep the kids apart works on David’s fragile, lovesick mind and makes him desperate.

Pettyfer (“Magic Mike”) doesn’t suggest that, as this David is written as all lovesick and moon-eyed. He’s harmless. Jade is in love for the first time, but Wilde doesn’t get across the breathless yearning that raises the stakes of their affair when Daddy pulls more than a few tricks out of his bag to try to split them up.

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