*1/2 (out of four)
Something that usually benefits movies about crazy kids’ all-consuming love is the heart-thumping sense that they really can’t go on without each other. Also, that they’re kids.
In “Endless Love,” 24-year-old Gabriella Wilde (“Carrie”) and her “I look like I model for mannequins” beauty seems about 23, not 17; 23-year-old Alex Pettyfer (“Magic Mike”) looks not 18 but 25. They do show that recent high school grads Jade and David think the other is super hot and deserving of makeout sessions, wherever and whenever. But nearly every time the actors have a chance to deliver big emotion, they go cold.
This Georgia-set remake of the 1981, Chicago-set film fortunately ditches much of what made its predecessor, based on Scott Spencer’s novel, so atrocious. In the scene where David and Jade sleep together, for example, David’s no longer wearing tube socks and tighty-whiteys, and Jade’s mom (Joely Richardson) no longer watches the two in action. Mom supports the feelings David brings out of her daughter—who spent the last several years mourning her brother’s death of cancer—but doesn’t have a crush on the guy.
(Let’s take a time-out to recognize first-time actor Tom Cruise’s amazingly squeaky voice in the original. He was 19 when the movie opened, and the first “Endless Love” is almost worth watching for his 40 seconds of screen time. Almost.)
Other than the relatable, dreamy fantasy of meeting someone incredible and spending every second together, “Endless Love” is easily the week’s worst remake (following “RoboCop” and “About Last Night”). It’s also proof that love stories need personalities of their own. Oh, Jade’s a sheltered, brilliant rich girl and David's a rugged, blue-collar dude needing to win over his gal’s father (Bruce Greenwood), who sees David and screams, “That’s the valet!”? Familiar characters can shine on screen with the right actors and memorable writing, a la “The Spectacular Now.” Directed and co-written by Shana Feste (“Country Strong”), “Endless Love” features not a moment that will have audiences cooing, “Awwwww.”
Instead, it’s a lot of needless backstory, predictable frontstory and yet another depiction of teens who can think of no better way to cut loose than flooring it and shouting “Whoo!”
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