Movie review: Endless Love

Franco Zeffirelli's original Endless Love movie from 1981 was notable for a couple of things - the sappy late-night duet by Lionel Ritchie and Diana Ross; and Tom Cruise and James Spader appearing in supporting roles early in their Hollywood careers. Pre-Internet era, the film also gained a certain notoriety for its raunchy love scenes which initially earned it an X rating in the US before it was re-edited to a less racy R; and featured a scene where a then-16-year-old Brooke Shields takes it all off in front of a fireplace.

Fast forward 33 years later - in a digital age where willing naughty selfies posted on social media networks are par for the course for any attention-seeking nubile starlet - and it comes as a slight surprise that writer-director Shana Feste's (Country Strong) reboot could turn out to be this chaste. But who could blame her when the leads, Alex Pettyfer (Magic Mike) and Gabriella Wilde (Carrie), both have a toothy apple-pie wholesomeness that can only naturally steer this remake towards PG territory.

So this version of Endless Love gets about as explicit as those MTV-type spring break reality shows that feature plenty of teenagers in skimpy outfits but draw the line at nudity. Save for one very brief scene where Wilde disrobes a la Shields in front of the fireplace (but with her long blonde hair strategically shielding her naughty bits), the rest of the sex scenes are implied and mostly don't go beyond a few seconds of tonguing between Wilde and Pettyfer.

Instead, Feste and her co-writer Joshua Safran (Gossip Girl) try their hands at injecting a little more drama into their adaptation of Scott Spencer's original 1979 novel of the same name. Which sounds like a swell idea if the results weren't so cliched and boringly predictable.

Wilde plays Jade, a poor little rich girl whose snotty doctor dad Hugh (Bruce Greenwood) frowns on her blossoming romance with Pettyfer's David. Never mind the latter is charmingly earnest but the fact that he comes from the wrong side of the tracks and isn't going to college like Jade is enough reason for the old man to do whatever he can from stopping the two from seeing each other.

His efforts include sending Jade off early for an internship, calling for a last-minute family-only holiday at their remote lake house and finally taking a restraining order out against David. But the film is not called Endless Love for nothing if this amorous couple can be so easily separated, as the pair do whatever they can to convince Hugh their love is the real deal.

It's all Mills and Boon stuff to make teenage girls swoon and Pettyfer's square-jawed dreamboat looks alone does half the job. It's mildly entertaining at best thanks to the easy chemistry between the two leads (both Brits playing American teenagers, no less) and Feste has gone the distance to make this reboot her own so even that famous Ritchie-Ross duet doesn't get remade for the soundtrack.

Too bad it's also terribly unmemorable and so lightweight it can only be taken as seriously as a summer fling.

Rating: C+

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