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  Endless Love Teenage Dream Or Teenage Nightmare
Year: 1981
Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Stars: Brooke Shields, Martin Hewitt, Shirley Knight, Don Murray, Richard Kiley, Beatrice Straight, James Spader, Ian Ziering, Robert Moore, Penelope Milford, Jan Miner, Salem Ludwig, Leon B. Stevens, Vida Wright, Jeff Marcus, Tom Cruise, Jami Gertz
Genre: Drama, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: Fifteen-year-old Jade Butterfield (Brooke Shields) and her slightly older boyfriend David Axelrod (Martin Hewitt) are so much in love, and today when their classes take a trip to the planetarium he skips his to be with Jade and gaze at the presentation together. The vastness of space scares her, and makes her wonder what they'd do if she died, but he reassures her that if she did go, he'd die too. That night, they are to attend a party at her family's house, and David gets dressed up in a tuxedo for the occasion; it all goes so well that at the end of the evening, something very special happens...

Can you guess what that is? More importantly, can you contemplate that without feeling slightly queasy rather than hopelessly romantic? Franco Zeffirelli apparently had the idea he was making a Romeo and Juliet for the eighties when he started work on Endless Love, adapted by Judith Rascoe from Scott Spencer's novel, but what he wound up with was a laughing stock for anyone over the age of sixteen. It didn't do newcomer Hewitt's career any favours, but actually he's not that bad if you thought you were watching a creepy psychothriller.

The snag is that you're never very sure if you are meant to take the love affair at the film's heart at face value and be swept along by its swoonsome contrivances, or be outright disturbed by David's obsession and Jade's difficulty in shaking her feelings for him (and why is he named after the respected composer and arranger David Axelrod, anyway?). The main emotion most will be experiencing, at least in the first half, is a bone-deep cringe, not least at the scene where the two teens lose their virginity to each other (don't worry, Brooke used a body double) and Jade's mother (Shirley Knight) catches them, but merely looks on affectionately.

If that's not enough to raise some chortles of disbelief then you ain't seen nothing yet. David lets his libido get the better of him, and he ends up taking every opportunity to, uh, make love to his girlfriend, to the extent that their schoolwork suffers and Jade's dad (Don Murray) objects strongly, eventually banning David from seeing her for a month. If your skin wasn't crawling enough already, this merely fires up the lovelorn young man's ardour even further, and be begins moping around school to catch a glimpse of Jade, and hanging around her house until a squeaky-voiced Tom Cruise (debuting as one of his friends) gives him a great idea.

What could be more inspired than setting fire to the Butterfield's home and then acting the hero by raising the alarm? Yes, this actually seems like a sensible course of action to get his girl back, and he lights a pile of newspapers on the porch, which promptly burns the house to the ground although, all credit to him, he does raise the alarm and save everyone. Next stop: psychiatric hospital, but we're only halfway through the movie, and there are fresh lunacies to be inflicted on us. There is a tension between Jade's mother's hippy-dippy liberal take on her daughter's relationship and dad's hardline "get this creep away from here" one, but by the end most reasonable viewers will be on dad's side all the way. At best you'll be rolling your eyes at the hero's antics, at worst, you'll be rolling around laughing that this is supposed to be serious - and yet, there are still a fair amount of fans who do react to it as sincere. Music by Lionel Richie and Jonathan Tunick, who reprise the treacly title song more often than most will be able to stand.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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