Endless Love stays predictable start to finish

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Starring Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde. Rated PG. Now playing

The good news? The remake of Endless Love bears little more than a passing resemblance to the 1981 original directed by Franco Zeffirelli. Based on the cult novel by Scott Spencer, and featuring a sappy theme song by Diana Ross, Zeffirelli’s adaptation was a slow-roasting turkey about obsessive teenaged love. Dark, brooding and incredibly self-indulgent, it’s best remembered for showcasing a young Brooke Shields at the height of her vapid fame.

The bad news? The remake—directed and co-written by Country Strong’s Shana Feste—is much worse. Feste throws out the more intriguing aspects of Spencer’s novel to serve up the kind of adolescent romance that’s completely predictable from start to finish.

The first warning sign? Although the cast is relentlessly pretty, most of the “teens” look like they could easily be in their mid-twenties. The plot—a stale cross between Romeo and Juliet and Beverly Hills 90210—is even less convincing.

David Elliot (Alex Pettyfer) is a troubled teen from the wrong side of the tracks. He wants nothing more than to find his true love and work as a mechanic at his dad’s garage. Jade Butterfield (Gabriella Wilde) is a surgeon’s daughter who’s destined for a career in medicine. They fall in love. Jade’s controlling father (Bruce Greenwood) goes ballistic at the thought of his obedient little girl ruining her future.

This is the kind of movie designed to appeal to people who need to believe that young love has more to do with Shakespearean nobility than zit-faced lust. Feste goes out of her way to show that David and Jade are star-crossed soulmates who understand commitment better than their adult counterparts. Ironically, it’s Greenwood’s psycho-dad who does most of the heavy lifting here.

We’re supposed to despise the obsessive nature of Greenwood’s Hugh Butterfield while siding with Anne, his ditsy novelist wife (Joely Richardson). Anne keeps prattling on about how inspired she is by the passion of David and Jade. But I couldn’t help identifying with Hugh’s frustration at the whole mess. Young love may last forever, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put a stupid movie out of its misery.

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