Bob Walkenhorst wrote, “Some things are classic/Some things are just old.”
The new movie “Endless Love” is a very simple romance, so straight-forward a cliché that it would be irritating except that after the first reel most viewers really won’t be paying attention.
And yet the audience it was intended to entertain—twelve-year-old girls, I’m guessing—won’t have been through the tale enough times to be tired of it. Besides, it is all about them.
Hyper-innocent looking English actress Gabrielle Wilde stars as poor little rich girl Jade (honest!—I’m not making any of this up). She lives in a Georgia where everyone has a clean-scrubbed Walter Cronkite accent, in a mansion owned by her medical doctor father (Bruce Greenwood) and her mother (Joely Richardson, and English actress), who once wrote a book.
An older brother of Jade’s died while following the family path of undergraduate work at Brown (home of the campus Speech Code) and then medical school. The kid’s death bothers dad still. Bothers him a lot. Bothers him so that he’s become unfaithful to his wife and to his kids a tyrant. His domination has kept Jade, who is graduating from high school and planning on college in Rhode Island, from having any sort of social life at all.
But one of her classmates, a mechanic’s son named David, gets to feeling all romantic whenever he sees her. David is played by Alex Pettyfer, another English actor, and one who has showed some form in recent if not particularly distinguished movies—”Magic Mike,” “Beastly,” and “I Am Number Four,” for instance. He’s good here as the generally agreeable kid from the wrong side of the tracks.
Dad is aghast that Jade likes David. David does things to make himself beloved, including fixing an heirloom car (I think it was a Triumph, an English car) and saving Jade’s post-graduation party by calling the cops about imaginary noise at a competing soiree.
Dad responds by telling David off, taking his family (including another son who is daring to study Speech at Arizona State) to a lake house, and having a background check done on David and his Dad. Turns out David once beat up his mother’s lover when he caught the two of them in bed in his home. Dad tries to use this information against the boy.
In contrast, David knows about Dad’s lover but says nothing. All of this is practically Simon Legree-level artificial. Some of the story elements have been borrowed from Nicholas Sparks’s romance formula, which always has to do with resorts on East Coast water.
But the last straw for me was the late night zoo visit. David’s friends and Jade want to go. They are let in after hours by a zoo employee. And they do no harm. But David’s jealous, working-class ex-girlfriend calls the cops. To save Jade from an arrest, David misleads the official pursuit and is himself arrested. Say what? I can see the zoo employee getting into trouble, but no one else. Besides, noble self-sacrifice is already overworked in the film. And there will be more of it.
There’s a car crash and a creepy home shrine and a house fire. The conflict is resolved in a way no one will believe natural in a million years. The end. Wasn’t it all sweet and innocent and, you know, tragic. I think I’ll tweet about it.
Nope, “Endless Love” is only for romantic girls and casting directors looking for English screen talent. Oh. And when it plays in Georgia, I wonder if the locals will understand a word the characters say.