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(A scene from the remake of "Endless Love," opening Friday, Feb. 14. Courtesy photo)
Movie review: ‘Endless Love’: DOA despite the mouth-to-mouth
Review » Instead of developing characters, remake makes do with interminable kissing.
First Published Feb 14 2014 01:01 am • Last Updated Feb 14 2014 01:01 am

When Franco Zeffirelli brought Scott Spencer’s novel "Endless Love" to the big screen in 1981, the result was a corny, poorly received teen romance starring Brooke Shields. More than three decades later, "Endless Love" is back, and what does this new version offer? A different set of actors, a Valentine’s Day release date and kissing. Lots of kissing. Kissing in place of character development and dialogue, even entire kissing montages where a meaningful plot should be.

The movie feels like Nicholas Sparks fan fiction as David Elliot (Alex Pettyfer), a wrong-side-of-the-tracks type, falls for blond bookworm Jade Butterfield (Gabriella Wilde). Both are recent high-school grads, but Jade is bound for Brown, while David has no plans beyond valeting at the local country club and working as a mechanic in his dad’s shop.

At a glance


‘Endless Love’

Opens Friday; rated PG-13 for language, brief partial nudity, sexual situations and teen partying; 105 minutes

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Jade spent high school either mourning the loss of her older brother or studying, so when the beefy popular kid shows an interest, she practically swoons. Not only does she fall deeply and immediately in love with David, but her brother (who struggles with a raging case of middle-child syndrome) and mother (Joely Richardson) become enamored of David’s romantic outlook, too. Who needs money when you have true love, the teen wonders aloud to the Butterfield clan as they lounge on the porch of the family manse.

And just when shooting stars should be streaking across the sky, along comes Jade’s father, Hugh (Bruce Greenwood), an epic killjoy, who reminds everyone that love doesn’t pay the mortgage. He’s clearly been studying the villain’s handbook and uses whatever means possible to drive a wedge between Jade and David. And you’ve got to admit, he has a point.

Jade and David make out at the library and in a fountain, they go at it in the back of a pickup truck, during an outdoor concert, in a lake and in what might be the Butterfields’ chess room (in front of a blazing fireplace — in the middle of summer). This movie takes us no deeper than physical attraction.

In between the smooching, there are loads of plot points, but somehow even a car crash and house fire feel tedious. Hugh’s vile deeds are so over-the-top that nothing could possibly seem genuine, especially when stretches of the movie look like a perfume commercial, with Jade cavorting around a pasture wearing fresh-picked flowers as jewelry.

"Endless Love" is one of three 1980s remakes this weekend. "RoboCop" and "About Last Night" are also hitting theaters, but unlike those movies, "Endless Love" didn’t amount to much in 1981. And it doesn’t fare better today. Like waterbeds and Betamax, some things are more fun to remember than to relive.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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