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Alex Pettyfer seems to have found his niche; playing brooding teenagers with a chip on their shoulders. Their very shirtless shoulders. Now, Pettyfer is continuing his moody streak by stepping into the remake of Endless Love. The original film starred Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt as star-crossed lovers who become obsessed with each other. When their parents try to keep them apart, it results in dramatic consequences. Though the film was widely criticized and not exactly a commercial hit, it did spawn the Diana Ross and Lionel Richie song "Endless Love," which, ironically, has become a favorite wedding anthem, and the most popular aspect of the original film.
Now, the film is getting the newest Hollywood treatment, though this one looks like it probably should have been left to rot in '80s shame. The story will once again follow David Axelrod and Jade Butterfield, played by newcomer Gabriella Wilde, who are a young couple deeply infatuated with each other. Though the trailer pretty much shows the film following the same story (couple falls in love, couple's parents keep them apart, and couple creates tragedy), it also seems to be a weird mashup of other romantic movies. David works at the hotel Jade is staying in (Dirty Dancing), the couple sneaks out and has sex in an abandoned house (The Notebook), then the two drive around on dirt roads and sit in the back of pick-up trucks (The Last Song). Instead of revamping the original story, and making it better (which wouldn't be all that hard to do) it seems like the movie has formed into a pseudo Nicholas Sparks drama with a hint psychotic teenage angst, which is only recognizable by the unsettling music in the background.... Basically, we shouldn't even be calling this film Endless Love, we should be calling it Hollywood Wants to Cash in on Your Romantic '80s Nostalgia.
While the trailer is typical and cheesy, maybe we can hold out hope that this generation can at least get an awesomely tacky song out of the it. Though, even if we don't, the film will have a naked and brooding Pettyfer, which may be one reason to check it out. Endless Love will be released on Feb. 14, 2014... Valentine's Day, of course.
Bobby Garfield (David Morse) returns to his small hometown to attend the funeral of his childhood friend and remembers the fateful summer in 1960 when his whole world changed. The story flashes back to when 11-year-old Bobby (Anton Yelchin) and his best friends Carol (Mika Boorem) and Sully-John (Will Rothhaar) capture the pure joy of youthfulness. When a mysterious stranger named Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins) moves upstairs and starts to pay attention to Bobby the boy suddenly realizes what's truly missing from his life--the love of a parent. Bobby's mother Liz (Hope Davis) is embittered by the death of Bobby's father and shows little compassion for her son's growing needs. Ted fills a void with the boy opening his eyes to the world around him and helps Bobby come to terms with his real feelings for Carol--and his mother. But Ted also has some deep dark secrets of his own and Bobby tries hard to stop danger from reaching the old man.
The performances make the film especially in the genuine camaraderie of the kids. Yelchin Boorem and Rothhaar never deliver a false move with an easiness that makes us believe we are simply watching three 11-year-old children grow up together. Yelchin in particular is able to get right to the heart of this young boy who misses his father and clings to the only adult who will listen. And his scenes with Boorem simply break your heart. (Davis) does an admirable job playing a part none too sympathetic. She manages to show a woman whose been beaten down but who does truly love her son in her own way. Morse too is one of those character actors you can plug in any movie and get a performance worth noting. In Hearts you want to see more of him. Of course the film shines brightest when Hopkins is on the screen. It may not be an Oscar-caliber performance but the actor is unparalleled in bringing a character to life--showing the subtleties of an old man looking for some peace in his life.
If you are expecting the Stephen King novel you may be disappointed. Screenwriter William Goldman and director Scott Hicks (Shine) deftly extracted the King formula of telling a story through a child's eye and explaining how the relationships formed as a child shaped the adult later. Hicks did an amazing job with his young actors especially Yelchin and Boorem. But where the novel continued into a supernatural theme explaining Brautigan's fear of being captured by "low men in yellow coats" (a reference to King's The Dark Tower series) the movie downplayed the mystical elements instead giving real explanations for Brautigan's man-on-the-run. That was the one problem with Hearts--we needed more danger. Introducing men from another dimension may not have been the way to go but had there been more tension the film would have resonated more especially when Bobby risked his own safety to save Ted.