We should all feel sorry for Jade Butterfield.
It's not easy being gorgeous and brilliant. Imagine the trials of finding just the right lipstick to bring out the blue of your eyes while simultaneously trying to decide which Ivy League school suits you the best. If that wasn't enough, poor Jade is saddled with a loving, supportive and incredibly rich family. And given that her popular older brother died tragically of cancer several years ago—well, you can see why everyone at her high school would treat her like a leper. If we know anything about high school at all, we know that it's no place for smart, rich, attractive, semi-tragic figures.
Jade bravely bears it all, but it's got to be tough. Agony, really. Why, she's never broken the law. Never gotten high. Never lashed out at her parents. Never even had sex—not even once! If only there was some sort of government program that could help her. Some charitable organization to lend a hand. Someone to make it all better for her.
Someone like David Elliot.
With the swooshy hair of a Jonas brother and the shoulders of a Cape buffalo, David has also suffered his share of hardship. And he's long admired Jade from afar. After four years of working up the courage to talk to her, the part-time parking valet finally does so on graduation day—asking her, naturally, to go for an illicit joyride in a slightly stolen Maserati. It's a nice little escape, and one that ends with a bang—the sound of David's fist hitting the angry Maserati owner's jaw.
David's fired and Jade's exacting father is aghast.
Yes, it's a fantastic start to a relationship. From the moment David waved his chin dimple in her direction, Jade knows he's the one for her—the one to rescue her from this life of comfort and promise. Never mind that she's only known him for exactly one tank of gas, she's utterly convinced that he is the one. The one she'll marry and have babies with, the one with whom she'll spend the rest of her life, the one she'll bail out of prison when the time comes.
But first, he's the one she has to have sex with.
[Spoilers are contained in the following sections.]
Believe it or not, this remake of Endless Love is an ethical improvement over the 1981 version, wherein David burns down the Butterfield house, fends off advances from Jade's mother and accidentally kills Jade's father. In this version, David (despite his established rough edges) is often a thoughtful, reasonably normal guy.
He cares for Jade and will do a great deal to ensure her happiness. He tries to impress her family (even fixing her dead brother's car) and succeeds with everyone but Jade's father. And going out with Jade apparently spurs some new direction in him as well: He decides to apply for college. Furthering one's education is always a plus in my book.
While Jade's dad, Hugh, is Endless Love's prime villain, he has some good traits too. It seems he quit his lucrative job as a doctor to care more fully for his cancer-ridden son, Chris. His sacrifice, Jade tells David, saved their family. He took the death understandably hard, and now he wants to maintain a close, protective relationship with his daughter.
Though David and Hugh are at loggerheads for most of the movie, the two actually end up saving each other: When a fire starts in Chris' old bedroom, David runs into the burning structure to bring Hugh out. And when David's knocked unconscious, Hugh sets aside some of Chris' memorabilia (which he seems to treasure more than anything) to pull David to safety.
Jade encourages David to sneak into the Butterfield house after all the lights are out, and she waits for him in a diaphanous nightie (the curves of her body easily visible underneath). David says she doesn't have to have sex with him if she doesn't want. "I can wait," he says. But she'll have none of that. So they disrobe each other (we glimpse part of her breasts) and the two consummate their curiosity in the Butterfield living room. (We see strategic stretches of skin as they kiss and grope.)
It's not the only time. They kiss and cuddle and caress frequently, making out in a library, a closet, in the back of a pickup and in the grass. They take a bath together (seen from the shoulders up). They dance sensually and cavort in bathing suits. Jade wears skimpy bikinis. She taunts David (and the camera) with peekaboo views of her panties and bra straps.
None of this is good news for David's ex-girlfriend, Jenny. She jealously flirts with David and wears curve-hugging garb. When David and Jade hit a rough patch, she's shown sitting on a bed with him, and her shirt's off.
Elsewhere, we see glimpses of an extramarital affair, and of a woman trying to win back her husband in its wake.
Jade is involved in a car crash. She wakes up in the hospital with a broken wrist and several cuts. A good chunk of the Butterfield home burns, leaving David and Hugh covered in soot (after the fire nearly kills them).
As mentioned, David slugs the Maserati owner. And he punches Hugh in the face, too. We hear that he beat his mom's extramarital lover so severely that the man wound up in the hospital and David landed in juvenile detention. Hugh, for his part, threatens David with a baseball bat.
Crude or Profane Language
One f-word and a half-dozen s-words. "A‑‑," "d‑‑n," "h‑‑‑" and "p‑‑‑" are sprinkled through the dialogue. Jesus' name is abused once. Someone makes a crude sexual remark about Jade.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Jade talks David into sneaking into a zoo and getting high. (We see them acting rather silly.) At Jade's graduation party, adults drink, and the high schoolers have red cups, suggesting that they might be too. (They act a little drunk.) Hugh often drinks from lowball glasses.
Other Negative Elements
Jade and David sneak around without Jade's parents' knowledge or permission. Hugh deliberately undermines David. Kids treat parents disrespectfully. Hugh bullies and demeans his children.
This remake of the 1981 Brooke Shields movie is catnip for moon-eyed teens, a sexually charged fantasy that encourages young girls to dream of sonnet-worthy relationships with the cute criminal in algebra class.
I am a 44-year-old husband/father/cynical movie reviewer—hardly the film's intended audience. I love my wife dearly, but my moon-eyed days are gone and, as such, I have a lot more sympathy than the film does for Hugh.
Yeah, the guy can be kind of a jerk. He had an affair. He pushes Jade to be a mini-me of himself, disparages his son's communications major (as a communications graduate myself, I took particular umbrage at this slight) and is trapped inside a prison of lingering grief.
But think about Jade and David's relationship from Hugh's perspective for a minute: His beloved, smart daughter meets a guy who all but abducts her and a Maserati. When he finally returns them, he starts punching people in the face. Said smart lass keeps sneaking out with the guy, seeming less and less concerned with school and her future as she does so. She might even be sleeping with him. Then Hugh finds out that the guy has a violent criminal record!
Yeah, if I were Hugh, I might not think of David as prime son-in-law material either.
Listen, I wish David and Jade nothing but the best. Love is indeed grand. But while we may lose our heart to someone special, that doesn't mean we should chuck our brain away just to give the expelled ticker some company. Not every good-looking felon is as soft-hearted as David. Not every father who asks his daughter to consider her future is as duplicitous as Hugh. And a roll on the family room floor is not a good way to begin any eternal relationship. This is the type of movie that makes me want to sit its creators down and holler, "What's wrong with you people?! Aren't we past thinking that love is all about rebellion and sex, perpetrated by people who look like they've just walked out of a Ralph Lauren ad?! Have you learned nothing from Frozen?!"
Apparently not. Unlike Frozen, Endless Love tells us that love is easy: It's everyone outside who make things difficult. But the truth is, while falling in love is easy, staying in love is hard. And it's the people outside that loving bubble who help pick up the pieces and maybe even put them back together again should the bubble burst.
Thankfully, I think teens today may be wiser than the movie's makers in this regard. I sat in a screening room amidst a bunch of 'em, and while they applauded loudly at movie's end, they also snickered and chortled at each steamy glance, each overheated speech. These teens watched the movie ironically, it would seem—almost as a steamy, teen-y version of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
But now parents will have to decide if their teens should see it at all. Because while they seemed to know better than to think Endless Love is actually about real love, they were still surely titillated by the sex scenes and horrified by Hugh.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Alex Pettyfer as David Elliot; Gabriella Wilde as Jade Butterfield; Bruce Greenwood as Hugh Butterfield; Joely Richardson as Anne Butterfield; Robert Patrick as Harry Elliot; Rhys Wakefield as Keith Butterfield; Dayo Okeniyi as Mace
Shana Feste (Country Strong)
February 14, 2014
Paul Asay Paul Asay