73° Good Morning
73° Good Morning

'Endless Love' review: Forget the original

Gabriella Wilde as Jade and Alex Pettyfer as

Gabriella Wilde as Jade and Alex Pettyfer as David in "Endless Love," the story of a privileged girl and a charismatic boy whose instant desire sparks a love affair made only more reckless by parents trying to keep them apart. Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert

There are remakes, readaptations and reboots, and then there is "Endless Love," a movie that bears almost no resemblance to its source material whatsoever.

You might call this a bad thing if you're a fan of Scott Spencer's 1979 novel, still well-regarded for its vivid portrayal of incendiary passion. Or, you might call it a good thing if you remember Franco Zeffirelli's botched 1981 adaptation, a soft-core melodrama that showcased Brooke Shields' adolescent body and acting limitations. If you have no memory of either -- which would mean you're about 13 -- the new "Endless Love" will serve just fine as a glossy, traditional, predictable Hollywood romance.

Written by Jonathan Safran and director Shana Feste, "Endless Love" is recast as "Romeo and Juliet" along a class divide. David is now a local grease monkey who falls for the wealthy but lonely Jade. Played by Alex Pettyfer ("I Am Number Four") and Gabriella Wilde (the recent "Carrie" remake), they're an attractive pair of young canoodlers. When Jade chooses David over an important summer internship, her controlling father, Hugh (a fine Bruce Greenwood), decides to pry them apart.

That's a more convincing premise than we got in the 1981 film, whose characters were so wildly inconsistent that they bordered on psychotic (James Spader originally played Jade's hostile brother). Here, as the battle between youth and age grows increasingly intense, we can at least comprehend Hugh's concern. His wife, Anne (Joely Richardson), is no longer a creepy cougar but a soothing voice of reason.

As a director, Feste often gets gold from her actors (Pierce Brosnan in "The Greatest," Leighton Meester in "Country Strong"), but as a writer she tends to play it safe. Her David can do no wrong -- every misstep, every misunderstanding, is someone else's fault. In Feste's hands, even the book's most disturbing plot point becomes an occasion for hugs and heart tugs. That's a prime example of why "Endless Love" functions so smoothly, yet remains so uninteresting.

By the way, you won't hear the Oscar-nominated title song made famous by Lionel Richie and Diana Ross. The movie closes with "Don't Find Another Love," from a rather more modern duo: Tegan and Sara.

PLOT The love between a wealthy girl and a working-class boy is thwarted by her controlling father.

RATING PG-13 (mild sexuality, language)

CAST Gabriella Wilde, Alex Pettyfer, Bruce Greenwood


BOTTOM LINE The bungled Brooke Shields movie from 1981 gets a total makeover, and the result is a slick, professional, thoroughly predictable teen romance.

More Entertainment