Well it’s February, which means two things. First, we’re going to get a totally lame action picture that wasn’t good enough for a summer release, i.e. “RoboCop.” Second, we’re going to get several predicable romance movies that nobody put any thought into whatsoever. “Endless Love” isn’t just a predicable romance movie. It’s an excruciatingly predicable one. Every character ark and plot point can be seen from several miles away. Watching this seemingly endless parade of clichés will overwhelm any thinking human being with grave frustration, making them want to hurl tomatoes at the screen.
“Endless Love” is based on the novel by Scott Spencer, which was previously adapted into a universally panned 1981 film with Brooke Shields. Whatever commentary the book and reviled original film attempted to make on obsession with young love is sacrificed here for the most formulaic fluff imaginable. But what do you expect when the film was co-written by the same guy who’s responsible for several episodes of “Gossip Girl” and “Smash?”
Alex Pettyfer of “I Am Number Four” and “Beastly” continues his futile pursuit to be a movie star as David Elliot, a recent high school graduate with unrealistic expectations for romance. David sets his eyes on Gabriella Wilde’s Jade Butterfield, a shy girl who lives a sheltered life with her parents. The two fall in love over the summer through a series of crappy montages set to crappy pop songs. Everything is so perfectly perfect for the lovebirds except for one little thing. Jade has an evil father who hates David because he’s a modest rebel who’s not going to college. Really, though, it’s just because Jade’s father is a one-note jerk who wants to control every facet of his daughter’s life.
This is what primarily makes “Endless Love” such an unwatchable mess. The disapproving father is already the most overused archetype in the history of movies. “Endless Love” takes the caricature to unbelievable new lows as this guy goes to ridiculously unnecessary extremes to keep his daughter away from her rational, supportive boyfriend. No offense to Bruce Greenwood, who does what he can in the role. It’s simply a horribly written character who gets more and more implausible as the narrative because more and more annoying. It’s as if the filmmakers all have serious daddy issues and this is their way of coping with them.
There does come a time when the father FINALLY accepts his daughter’s choices. I don’t think I’m giving anything away by sharing that information. By this point, however, the father has become so needlessly nasty and unsympathetic that we don’t even want to see him reconcile with his daughter. He’s a flat-out villain who’s far beyond the point of redemption.
In addition to daddy dearest and the airhead lovers, “Endless Love” is jam-packed with numerous other cheap archetypes, too. There’s the token black best friend who makes bad jokes, the supportive mother who tells her daughter to follow her heart, an obnoxious snob who treats hired help like peasants, and David’s ex-girlfriend who only exists to cause more conflict in the final act. Oh, and if that’s not enough conflict, the film also throws in a car crash and fire. Yeah, because these are the everyday problems couples have to deal with, freak accidents, misunderstandings with ex’s, and fathers that just don’t understand. No matter what happens, though, love can overcome anything. Life is just that simple, kids!
This movie is stupid. The only thing that could have saved it is if the filmmakers had gone all the way with the movie’s stupidity. Then maybe “Endless Love” would have at least been enjoyably stupid like last year’s “Safe Haven” and other Nicholas Sparks adaptations. Instead, the film is just plain stupid, stupid, stupid. Who would have thought that between “That Awkward Moment,” “Winter’s Tale,” and this assassination of romance, the best date movie to see would end up being “The LEGO Movie.”
• Ahwatukee native and Desert Vista graduate Nick Spake is a student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for five years, reviewing movies on his website, NICKPICKSFLICKS.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.