A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Endless Love is the second adaptation of Scott Spencer's 1979 novel -- the first is the campy 1981 melodrama starring Brooke Shields -- an intense drama about a smart, wealthy girl who desperately falls for a mechanic's son much to her father's horror. The remake is less trashy than the original, but there's definitely still sexual content, although it's not graphic. Language includes "s--t," "a--hole," and a single "f--k," and violence is limited to a couple of punches and a car accident that leads to a brief hospital stay. Ultimately this is not quite the story of obsession it was in the original, but a tamer and sentimental exploration of first love that lasts.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In this remake of ENDLESS LOVE (a 1979 novel that was turned into a campy 1981 adaptation starring Brooke Shields), David (Alex Pettyfer) narrates on the day of his high-school graduation that he has long had a crush on Jade (Gabriella Wilde), a wealthy but lonely girl from his class who spent two years mourning the death of her beloved brother. After finally summoning the courage to talk to her while on the job as a valet, he and Jade instantly connect. The sparks take no time to fly, as the two embark on a summer-long romance threatened by her strict father's (Bruce Greenwood) plans for his princess' bright future -- one he does not want to include a handsome but "low-life" car mechanic. Despite her father's attempts to separate the couple, Jade and David seem destined for each other.
Is it any good?
Viewers who crave star-crossed "instalove" will get their fill from this movie, while everyone else will be only mildly amused. There's no doubt that teen girls interested in romance will enjoy the wish-fulfillment aspects of a gorgeous guy from the wrong side of town (with a heart of gold, of course) falling for a beautiful bookish girl with no relationship experience. And of course, the actors sure are pretty, what with both of them being British models. But as sweet and soapy as this teen romance is compared to the downright over-the-top (and trashy) original, there are way too many laughably predictable and unrealistic aspects to make it a good movie.
The adults are all fine actors (Joely Richardson plays Jade's understanding mother Anne, and David's supportive dad is Robert Patrick), but Greenwood's doctor is so villainous he nearly takes a bat to David's head. In this adaptation, it's the father's obsession -- not David's -- that's the problem. The upper-crust father's focus on his lovely daughter's every move and her blossoming relationship borders on disturbing. On the bright side, a couple of the supporting players, especially David's best friend Mace (Dayo Okeniyi) and Jade's brother Keith (Rhys Wakefield) add much-needed levity to the story, and there's one undeniably funny moment from David when Pettyfer gets to use his native English accent.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of remakes. Parents familiar with the original, how does this version compare to the R-rated original? Why do you think the filmmakers wanted to do a remake?
Discuss the way teen sexuality is portrayed in the movie. Is it realistic or idealized? Do you think it's believable that an 18-year-old guy would be adevoted to the idea of finding the love of his life? Why are teen romances often concerned with class?
In the book and the original adaptation, the love story is more a study of obsession. How is the new adaptation different?
- In theaters: February 14, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: May 27, 2014
- Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Gabriella Wilde, Bruce Greenwood
- Director: Shana Feste
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Romance
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, High School
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sexual content, brief partial nudity, some language and teen partying
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