Endless Love for Endless Love

Endless Love (2014)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (4/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ ★ (3/5)
Boyfriend Friendly: No. But he sure as hell better take you anyway. With a notepad in hand.

I will start this review out by saying that it is exactly movies like this that made me start this site in the first place. Endless Love is currently at a 14% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 14%! That’s so low that on Valentine’s Day, I opted to see Her for the 3rd time because I didn’t want to risk being more bummed than I already was (it was my first single V-Day in 5 years, gimme a break). So instead, I dragged myself to a matinee this morning. And you know what? I loved it. Apparently, so did 67% of the Rotten Tomatoes audience – proving once again that critics need to chill the eff out and critique a romance film like a romance film. Or they don’t because, you know, I do take pride in being the voice of reason.

I have never seen the original Endless Love, nor I have read the book that the 1981 film is based off of, but I have read summaries of both and they sound really depressing. I mean, I can recognize the beauty in a solidly-written tragic love story. I am a bit of a Romeo and Juliet junkie, to the point where I’ve already picked out the brownstone future me plans to live in on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights. But it is awards season, which means there are enough heavy movies out right now that sometimes you need to throw a good ole fashioned whimsical romance into the mix. Is that so awful? According to Peter Travers, yes. To me? Quite the contrary.

The trailer tells you all you need to know about the movie: “She comes from a world of privilege and power, but she’ll leave it all behind for him.” Clich├ęd? A bit. Melodramatic? That’s an understatement. But aren’t all romance films to a degree? Hell, aren’t ALL romances in general? I know every relationship I’ve ever been in has had its fair share of both – doubly so in the melodramatic department. Plus, I never get sick of seeing the good girl meets “wrong side of the tracks” guy story play out because, as a notorious good girl, I can say with confidence that most of us do have a hidden desire to run off with a quote/unquote bad boy. Granted, I can also say with confidence that when that does happen, it more often than not ends the way the original Endless Love does. But that story is for a different day!

Anyway, I’m not going to spend too much time on the plot because you’ve seen it rehashed a million times but Jade Butterfield (Gabriella Wilde) is a beautiful, teenage recluse whose spent her high school years locked up mourning the loss of her older brother. On the day of graduation, her classmate David Elliot (Alex Pettyfer), who has been eying her for years from afar, finally gets to make his move when the Butterfields show up for dinner where he valets. He invites her for a joyride in a Maserati he’s parking, and in an instance of spontaneity she says yes (obviously while holed up at home she got the chance to watch Transformers and knew that 50 years from now, she’d want to say she had the guts to get in the car). Thus, the beginning of a glorious summer romance. The only issues are that her Dad is a total hardass/jackass who isn’t into the fact that David’s only aspiration in life is to work as a mechanic in his father’s garage and that instead of a whole summer together – they only have two weeks, because Jade’s leaving for Brown early for an internship.

The movie is chock full of darling love scenes and montages that will make you swoon (or make you really bitter… depending on your outlook on love this week), including an adorable moment where David calls the cops on a rival party going on so that all the kids there will come to Jade’s graduation party, which was formerly a no-show bust. Pettyfer does this 911 call in his legitimate British accent by the way… which, given the fact that he and Wilde are both Brits, I just don’t understand why they didn’t set the film in the UK because that would have been too hot to handle. I know some had complaints about the pair’s chemistry, but I am the self-proclaimed chemistry police and I didn’t have any issue. Pettyfer, who I didn’t care for in Magic Mike, was charming and I totally bought him as a hopeless romantic (or as Jade’s father called him a “homeless romantic”). His attraction to Jade started as a mere infatuation but I saw where that transpired into actual love (post-grad party, when he is walking on the hoods of cars like a giddy boy who just discovered masturbation). I also enjoyed seeing Jade find herself, as she grew from a closeted girl to a spontaneous woman finally ready to enjoy life. Many critics had problems with the way Wilde constantly twirled and pranced around on camera, but I challenge all of those writers to go back to the first time they experienced love and try to claim that they didn’t do the same. I mean, I remember when I got my first KISS I came home screaming and jumping up and down like a lunatic. My family rushed downstairs thinking something terrible happened. No, Gary, some guy named Alex with a car just kissed your 15 year-old daughter in your driveway. Go back to sleep.

I am so used to romance movies ending SAD and unrequited lately, that I was petrified (pettyferfried?) this would end like the film/novel it set out to remake. When everything went up in flames at the end (literally), I couldn’t help but let out a gasp and clasp my mouth in fear. But this film has a happy ending, and I was grateful for that. Endless Love is not life-changing, but it knows exactly the type of movie it is and it does it well – incorporating romance, adventure, fireworks and all of the others things I ever want into a sappy, feel-good chick flick.

Since there hasn’t been enough Ryan Gosling on screen lately, I will end with a shout-out to my new favorite website, KissingRyan.com. You’re welcome, ladies:

Advertisements

The (Wayyy Too) Lucky One

The Lucky One (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ (3/5)
Film Rating: ★ ½ (1.5/5)
Boyfriend friendly: No chance. Unless he happens to be some big Nicholas Sparks fan, in which case – tell him to call me, maybe. (Zac Efron was in that music video, right?)

I have been talking about The Lucky One (2012) since I welled up with tears the first time I saw its trailer back in January. I was convinced this movie was going to be right up there with The Notebook in my eyes. I didn’t even read the book beforehand to eliminate any “book bias” when reviewing! But perhaps I should have read it, because without doing so, I felt disconnected from the story and just completely “meh” towards the whole thing.

Now, I created this site so that chick flicks can be reviewed for what they are meant to be. And I think I have done a pretty decent job at not reviewing them as seriously as films of higher caliber, and forgiving the creative liberties they sometimes must take (a la my reviews for The Vow and This Means War). But this film really had me scratching my head at some a lot of points. So, I am going to break down The Lucky One bit by unconvincing bit. Excuse the longer length – I promise, it’ll be fun! Starting from the top…

Warning: I will spoil the entire movie for you. Even though the trailer beat me to it.

Zac Efron plays a U.S. Marine stationed in Iraq, Logan Thibault. (It’s French, pronounced like Tebow. As in, Tim Tebow – which would’ve been a lot more Amurrican of a spelling, if you ask me.) The morning after a night raid, Logan finds a photograph of a pretty, blonde woman sitting in front of a lighthouse. As he examines it, an explosion goes off where Logan would have been standing had he not found the picture. He decides to keep the photo, which becomes his guardian angel – protecting him through all sorts of brutal combat. Upon returning home to his sister’s house in Colorado, he decides to make it his mission to find the woman in the photograph and thank her. After a really brief googling of lighthouses, he is able to determine that this woman lives in a small town in Louisiana. He then proceeds to take Zeus, his German Shepherd, and walk there. From Colorado.

Let’s stop there a moment. According to Wikipedia (only the most reliable source ever), there are over one thousand lighthouses in the US alone. And a lot of them look really similar! I mean, how different can 1,000 lighthouses honestly look? And whose to say this girl is American? What if she was British? There were British troops in Iraq and the UK has lighthouses too! Not to mention, she signed the back of the picture “Keep Safe. X.” And British people end everything with X’s. I worked at the BBC briefly and even my boss signed his emails to me with them… kinda creeped me out. But my point is: Americans use XO’s, and sparingly. British people use X’s, but everywhere. Wouldn’t Zac Efron at least consider all of this before hiking all the way to Louisiana?

And how ’bout that hike… Without stopping to eat, sleep, rest, and only using major highways which are illegal to walk on, Google Maps tells me that the walk from Colorado to Louisiana takes approximately 15 days, 9 hours. And that’s state line to state line. So realistically (if there is such a thing), that walk would take at least a month. Seems like an awfully long walk to find a woman that could have been on vacation when that photo was taken. And even if Logan can do the walk, there is no way that a dog who’s been house broken all his life would. I don’t care how loyal he is. My dog won’t even let me take him on the long route around our neighborhood before plopping his fat ass down and refusing to move anywhere but back in the direction towards our home. Nevertheless, Logan walks to Louisiana, stops in a bar, and shows the picture to a guy who happens to know exactly who this girl is and where she lives. Keep in mind, this is all within the first five minutes of the movie. I thought the search for her was going to a major part of it. Wouldn’t a movie about the journey a Marine takes trying to find the beautiful woman in the photograph that saved his life be so utterly romantic? Like, can someone make that movie, please?

So he goes to her home, which is also a family-run dog kennel business (so perf!), and comes face-to-face with Beth (Taylor Schilling): the woman in the photo, former wife of the town Sheriff, and mother to young Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart). Now, there would be no movie if Logan told her why he was actually there, so he chickens out and Beth mistakes him for a job applicant. He takes a job at the kennel, and the two of them develop a steamy relationship (duh) – much to the disapproval of her combative ex-husband Keith (Jay R. Ferguson) who uses his power as Sheriff to threaten to take Ben away. During all this, Logan learns that Beth’s brother died in combat in Iraq, which may have been the result of friendly fire, so he decides to keep the photo a secret. That is until Keith raids his house, finds it, and convinces Beth that Logan was the friendly firer. As this all goes down, the gorgeous Louisiana weather rapidly switches to a torrential hurricane and an upset Ben runs away to his safe haven: a treehouse. (I don’t know about you – but the first thing my Momma ever told me was don’t climb a tree when its lightening.) Logan and Keith team up to save him – which they do – but the treehouse falls on Keith and his dead body floats down the river leaving Logan, Beth, and Ben to live happily ever after.

So what else bothered me about the above? Well, once I found out the photo was for her brother I was a little creeped out. It was just a weird photo for someone’s brother. If my brother went to Iraq, I’d give him a photo of the two of us as dorky kids. Or, if I was a mom like Beth, a photo of me and his nephew. Not a photo of me being all sexy in white by a lighthouse! But whatevs – I get it. Logan wouldn’t have fallen for her if he knew she came with baggage. I was also like, “What’s the big deal? Why won’t he just tell her about the photo? Doesn’t he realize any girl in her right mind would think that’s so hot?” But again, there’d be no movie if he did, so I mostly ignored it. Not a huge deal. Then there was the fact that the yummy sex scenes were marred by the art director’s bizarre choice to put one of those white, tulle princess canopy things over Logan’s bed. 8 year-old girls have those things over their beds, not US Marines! Mostly though, Keith’s death felt like a cop out (see what I did there?). Sure, he was a total psycho but that doesn’t mean he deserved to die! And what about poor Ben?! That kid’s gonna be in therapy for life knowing it’s his fault his dad got crushed to death by his treehouse. Alone, I may have forgave the ending. But combined with everything else, it was icing on the cake – and I’m talking one of those fancy Cake Boss cakes that look beautiful but taste like ass.

Now, I am perfectly aware that chick flicks should not solely be judged on how realistic they are. So since I gave this flick 3 hearts on the Chick Flick Barometer, there had to be some things I liked about it, and there were. I know Zac Efron gets panned by critics for his acting, and I was right there with them until I saw Charlie St. Cloud a couple of years back. He impressed me in that, and he continued to show promise here. Logan Thibault might not have been the most complex of roles, but I enjoyed watching him play the brooding solider who falls in love. And it certainly didn’t hurt that the role required him to heave around heavy packages of dog kibble shirtless. I never heard of Taylor Schilling before, but I really liked her as well. There is one scene where she rips Keith a new one, and she completely nails it. The entire audience broke out in applause! It was nice to see a fresh face, and I hope to see more of her on the silver screen. Blythe Danner, as always, was fantastic as Beth’s whacky Nana who says everything on her mind and got some legit laughs. Plus, every Nicholas Sparks book-to-movie adaptation is good for a few killer cheeseball lines that you can’t help but swoon over.

The Lucky One was one of those situations where giving it a “3” seems generous, but giving it a “2.5” would be too harsh. I didn’t hate it, but I wouldn’t necessarily watch it again. I prepared myself to cry my eyes out and I didn’t even tear up. I would normally think that’s a good thing, since I’ve been getting sick of those trademark Nicholas Sparks sad-for-the-sake-of-being-sad endings, but it means I wasn’t overly moved by the movie either. As I said, I think the story would have been stronger if it focused more on Logan’s journey to find the woman in the picture. But hey, it could have been a lot worse… Beth could’ve ended things with Logan out of nowhere to marry her skeevy, old-man of a neighbor. You know, like that other Nicholas Sparks book/movie about a US soldier in love. I’m looking at you, Dear John.

These Movies Are What I Live For

The Vow (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (5/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ ★ (3/5)
Boyfriend friendly: As if he has a choice?

You know that sinking feeling you get in the pit of your stomach during a movie you really like because the camera tilts up to the sky, the screen gets wide, the music gets louder, and you’re just overcome with this complete sadness because you know that it’s going to end? The same kind of feeling you get going down a big drop on a roller coaster? It’s been awhile since a chick flick has made me feel that way. And tonight, I finally got that feeling back.

Valentine’s Day is bigger than Christmas to me, because Valentine’s Day weekend means all the artsy films have been released and nominated for Oscars, and theaters can now make room for the cheesy, feel-good romance movies that proudly make up 95% of my DVD collection. Unfortunately, the past four V-day weekends have been total duds with box office toppers like: Just Go With It (Just Don’t With It), Valentine’s Day (According To Every Single Living Celebrity), Dear John (Dear John, You’re Cute But I’m Going To Marry A Creepy Old Man), He’s Just Not That Into You (And I Can See Why), and Fool’s Gold (The Money The Producers Made From Any Sucker Who Paid To Watch). But ALAS! Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum have come to save the (holi)day!

The Vow is based off of the true life events of newlyweds Krickett and Kim Carpenter – upgraded in the film as the sexier Paige (McAdams) and Leo (Tatum) Collins. After a severe car accident puts Paige in a coma, she wakes up to realize the last five years of her life are completely wiped from memory. In her mind, Obama is still Senator and she is still a preppy law student who lives with her conservative parents (Sam Neill, Jessica Lange) and is engaged to a yuppie named Jeremy (Ben from Felicity). Why would she ever give all that up to become an artist living in a hip, bohemian loft with a musician husband and no medical benefits? Well, that’s the problem. She can’t remember, so Leo has to figure out how to make his wife re-fall in love with him.

To be honest, Channing Tatum and I never really had chemistry before this movie (gasp!). Sure, his body looks like it was sculpted by Michelangelo, but I questioned his acting ability and his dance moves have nothing on Patrick Swayze’s. So I am surprising myself when I say that he carries the film, not McAdams. It is heartbreaking (in a good way) to watch him believably play the unwavering husband who is hopelessly in love with the woman he married and desperate to get back. At times, I even found myself angry at Paige for not remembering him! Astonishingly, despite her non-reciprocated feelings and his frustration because of it, Tatum’s dedication to Leo’s unfaltering devotion keeps the on-screen chemistry alive. Tatum also has a series of clever one-liners, which he delivers with perfection. (Never did I ever think a fart scene could be cute).

In response to the complaints I’m reading regarding the ending well, I won’t spoil it here, but I will say two things:
         1) That’s the way it went down in real life
         2) Doesn’t that prove even further that they truly are soulmates?
I personally LOVED the ending. My only complaint is that it felt like Paige and Leo were apart longer than they were together, which I guess is the case in every chick flick. No one gets together till the end, do they? But here, it stuck out. They started off married in the movie, and I loved those happy moments, so I wanted to see more of them.

Leo expresses my exact feelings, in a scene where he tries to excite Paige about falling in love again: “You know how when you read a great book,” he explains, “And you loan it to a friend, but are so jealous that they get to experience it for the first time, and you’ll never get another chance? Well, now you will.” Even if there’s nothing like the first time, I’ll be sure to experience The Vow over and over again. (Although I’m pretty sure if I lost my memory, my boyfriend would deem it a blessing from God and run for the hills).

P.S. How did I fail to mention the shot of Tatum’s nude butt?

Tale As Old As Time

Beauty & the Beast 3D
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (5/5)
Film Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ (4/5)
Boyfriend friendly: Only if you’ll see Star Wars 3D with him in February

Beauty & the Beast 3D may be a weird first review piece considering the story has literally been around for hundreds of years. But Disney, in true Disney fashion, continues to find ways to “re-vamp” all their treasured classics so they can get the most bang out of their buck. After the 1991 film release, came the animated television series, the two direct-to-video midquels, the Broadway musical, the Imax remastered extended version, and, of course, we can’t forget the sing-along edition hosted by Jordin Sparks. Now, Beauty & the Beast is back in theaters, but this time in 3-D… despite the fact that a 5-disc combo pack including a DVD, digital copy, Blu-ray 2D, AND Blu-ray 3D version was released last year.

It’s a little embarrassing to admit how excited I was to pay 20 bucks for a 3D movie ticket in NYC to go see something that I own on VHS. (I used to own it on Blu-ray/DVD too until I loaned it to a foreign exchange student and she took it back to Italy with her… that bitch.) It could be because Beauty & the Beast was the first movie I ever saw in theaters. Or because I named my dog after Belle. But really, I think it’s because Beauty & the Beast is the perfect example of a great romcom. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, and you leave the theater singing and believing that you’re a princess also destined for a great love story.

For anyone who has lived under a rock for the past 20 years, Beauty & the Beast is about Belle: a French, Daddy’s girl who is being forced to marry this awful The-Situation-but-better-looking dude Gaston, and (you guessed it) the Beast: who is actually a young prince put under a spell by some mean Enchantress all because he wouldn’t give her a place to crash when she was disguised as an ugly, old homeless person. (FYI: I wouldn’t let an ugly, old homeless person stay in my castle either.) The only way Mr. Beasty can reverse the spell, is by loving and being loved in return. So, to make a long story short, Belle gets trapped in his castle, they fall in love, they kick Gaston’s ass, and the Beast turns back into a Prince all while being interrupted for some lovely musical dance breaks by the Beast’s talking household appliances, Lumiere (a candlestick), Cogsworth (a clock), and Mrs. Potts (a teapot).

Beauty & the Beast was actually converted to 3D before The Lion King and, whereas I was very impressed with TLK’s 3D conversion, I was pretty indifferent to this. The 3D did little to add to the movie’s greatness, but it also didn’t take away from it. Sure, there are certain parts where the characters look flat and two-dimensional against a three-dimensional backdrop (a problem that was almost entirely fixed for TLK). But there were also scenes like “Be Our Guest” where everything popped perfectly. You noticed all the little intricacies put in by the animators that were harder to catch before, like filled wine glasses dancing on top of wine bottles and swooping chandeliers holding spoon swan-divers. That scene alone makes the 3D ticket price worth it.

Belle is by far the best out of the Princess Core 4 (i.e. the princesses that are on EVERY Disney backpack, lunchbox, and nightgown). Sure, your 5 year-old daughter might dream of being a mermaid – but Ariel is only 16 years old and wants to get MARRIED. Plus, she’s a ginger. Jasmine might not be rushing off to get married, but that’s only cause she wants to run around with her boobies hanging out. And Cinderella is just fucking boring. Belle’s smart! She reads! She dresses conservatively (but elegantly)! She’s fiercely strong and independent! And she loves people for who they are on the inside… (sigh)

Deciding whether or not paying an inflated ticket price to see a movie you already know all the words to is your call. I enjoyed it, but I would have also enjoyed digging out my toddler-sized yellow ballgown, popping the movie into the one VCR I have left, and singing/dancing along in the privacy of my bedroom. Regardless of how you do it, the happiness you’ll feel for that hour and a half is worth a re-visit. This tale as old as time is truly timeless, and me thinking that the Beast is hotter before he turns back into a Prince/a Hanson brother is besides the point.