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

Every Rose Has Its Thorn

Rock of Ages (2012)
Chick Flick Rating: ♥ ♥ (2/5)
Film Rating: ★ ½ (1.5/5)
Boyfriend friendly: Yeah, def (Leppard).

Let me tell you a little story: When I was a freshman in college, I began writing my first musical, called I Wanna Rock. It was set in the 80’s in a run-down NYC night club that was on the brink of foreclosure and the soundtrack consisted of all 80’s classics such as Here I Go Again, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Don’t Stop Believing, We Built This City, Shadows of the Night, etc. Having such a hardcore infatuation with all things 80’s, this quickly became my passion project so when the script was near completion, I began showing it to a few of my privileged classmates – hoping that one of them was actually the granddaughter of Hal Prince or something. None of them were, so I shelved the script figuring I’d just wait until I met the right person. Cut to 2 years later, when I am living in London, and I get a letter from one of those classmates. The letter is enclosed with a press release for a new musical opening on Broadway, called Rock of Ages, which is set in the 80’s in a run-down Hollywood night club that is on the brink of foreclosure and the soundtrack consists of all 80’s classics such as Here I Go Again, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Don’t Stop Believing, We Built This City, Shadows of the Night, etc. I may have been across the pond, but I’m pretty sure my scream that night rocked all of Broadway like a hurricane.

A year later, after conducting hours of stealthy sleuthing to make sure none of the people that read my script were in any way affiliated with this production and finally concluding that it was just a bizarre coincidence, I went to see Rock of Ages on Broadway. And I had a ton of fun. In fact, I was actually relieved because I liked it so much. Of course, mine would have been better – (How could they forget about Jessie’s Girl?!) – but it was high energy, really funny, and they gave out free lighters to wave in the air with every program. I left the theater with a healed heart and an idea for a completely new musical (whose premise I will not reveal to a single soul). Unfortunately, the Rock of Ages movie adaptation was missing the energy, the funny, and the free lighters, and my wounded heart ached all over again while watching it.

It probably comes as no surprise that I am a huge musical goer. There is perhaps nothing in the world that I enjoy more. However, I have never been a huge fan of musicals on screen. With the exception of Grease and Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Once More With Feeling” episode, on-screen musicals generally feel very detached and just out of place. I mean, I don’t even really like Glee. But then, a few years ago, Adam Shankman came out with Hairspray – which totally blew away my expectations – and I thought, “Yes! There is a director who finally gets it.” So when I heard he was directing Rock of Ages, I was fairly confident that my baby was in good hands. Wrong. In fairness to him, I think the film was in trouble before it even got to his desk – mainly due to a script that took out some of the best scenes in the musical to make room for weaker characters, flatter jokes, and a bunch of big names that give small performances.

In the stage version, Drew – an aspiring rockstar by day, Bourbon Room busboy by night – is the lead character, but whoever it is that plays him in the movie isn’t strong enough or interesting enough and the focus quickly shifts to his love interest, Sherrie (Julianne Hough): a small-town girl living in a lonely world who took the midnight train bus from Oklahoma to seek some Hollywood fame. Hough is made for musicals, but her Sherrie was a little too sugary for me. Although the Broadway version is light-hearted and fun, the characters are gritty and real, and Sherrie makes some selfish choices to further her career (i.e. having groupie bathroom sex with rock god Stacee Jaxx). In the movie, any mistakes Sherrie makes are simply written off as a big misunderstanding. Catherine Zeta-Jones, who generally does no wrong in my eyes, actually disappointed me as the Mayor’s determined wife who wants to clean up Sunset Strip. Her acting was fine, but her rendition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot was not all that jazz, if you catch my drift. To be honest, I’ve performed karoake versions of that song better while drunk off my ass. I never like Alec Baldwin, so I won’t even bore you with that tirade. But most upsetting was that my favorite character in the musical, Regina (pronounced like vagina but with a ‘R’), a birkenstock-wearing Berkely grad devoted to saving the Bourbon Room, was cut out of the movie completely to make room for Russell Brand and Malin Akerman. Brand, whose sole purpose in life must be prancing around like an unbathed unicorn that shouts British expletives whenever he gets the urge, made me laugh exactly once. Akerman, on the other hand, was pretty adorbs as a Rolling Stone reporter in tortoise-rimmed glasses, and even though I was convinced her rendition of Foreigner’s I Want To Know What Love Is was totally autotuned, I may be wrong because I have since found out that she is the lead singer of a Swedish band, The Petalstones. Hmpf. In my opinion, they should have cut Brand out and had Akerman play the Regina character and a whole lotta better would’ve come from it.

Surprisingly, I really liked Tom Cruise as the Axl Rose-esque rock legend, Stacee Jaxx. I didn’t think I would buy him as a badass all tatted up with guyliner and assless chaps, but he did Def Leppard proud singing Pour Some Sugar On Me. I was also happy that they made his character somewhat redeeming towards the end, cause Jaxx is just a total villain in the stage production. Paul Giamatti, who played Jaxx’s skeevy manager, is always a delight and my only regret is that they didn’t have him sing because I think that could have added some much needed comedy.

Due to my personal attachment to the story and the fact that I’ve seen the musical, my film review might be a little harsher than others. But, I still don’t think I’d recommend the movie even if that weren’t the case. However, if you do get the opportunity to catch the stage show, whether on Broadway or a local production, definitely do that! It’s a really fun premise (if I do say so myself) that just wasn’t conveyed through the film adaptation. Now I just have to start mentally preparing myself for the emotional anguish that is bound to occur when my favorite musical ever, Les Miserables, self combusts in front of my eyes this Christmas. I lost all faith in this movie when I heard they were considering Taylor Swift for Eponine. Then they released the trailer and holy Lord, I know the world disagrees with me, but Anne Hathaway’s I Dreamed A Dream has got to be the weakest performance I have ever heard of that song ever. (And I’ve seen it staged over 15 times, from Broadway, to the West End, to my local middle school). I generally love Anne, but “toned down” my ass. You only tone things down when someone can’t hit the real notes. Hopefully I’m wrong, but I’m convinced the only thing that will save this film is if NPH and Jason Segel have a surprise cameo performance during The Confrontation:

Happy (Day After) Valentine’s Day!

As I mentioned in my review of The Vow, Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday. So it’s completely understandable that today, after I’ve used up the last of my red pancake batter and only have the gross strawberry nougats left in my box of chocolates, I’m struck with post-holiday blues. To help me combat them, I’ve given myself the very difficult task of narrowing down my favorite chick flicks to a top 10 list…

Before you read, this is not to be confused with a list of the 10 Best Chick Flicks. That would be an entirely different list, and would include movies like Casablanca, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and The Notebook (no, The Notebook is not on this top 10 list. Read #6 to see why). This is a list of My 10 Favorite Chick Flicks, based on the number of times I’ve watched them, the memories I have from watching them, and the happiness I feel when watching them.

Drumroll please…


#10 – Pretty in Pink
The Pretty in Pink vs. Sixteen Candles debate is a tricky one, with an equal amount of support waging war from both sides. For me, Pretty in Pink always takes the cake (see what I did there?). Even though Blane is a complete tool and Jake Ryan could kick his wimpy ass, Andie is a way better heroine than Sam. In high school, I was Sam, but I wanted to be Andie. That scene where Andie throws Blane against a locker and rips him a new one over prom says it all – Sam/high-school-me would never do that. But there were plenty of times where we should have! Plus, Pretty in Pink has Duckie♥ and all of his mistaking-tampons-for-candy glory. ‘Nuff said.

#9 – Jerry Maguire
“You complete me.” Not only was this one of the greatest lines uttered in any romance movie EVER, but it was uttered by Tom Cruise when he was not only still in the Sexy Men Top 10 – he was right at the top of it. And not only was this one of the greatest lines uttered in any romance movie EVER, but it prompted Renee Zellweger’s character to say THE greatest line uttered in any romance movie EVER: “You had me at hello.” That line right there created a whole new level of hopelessness for hopeless romantics like myself. And since I am 99% certain that this movie is why I am currently dating an aspiring sports agent, it had to go in the top 10.


#8 – 10 Things I Hate About You
You will soon enough realize that I am a Shakespeare freak. So the fact that someone cleverly turned The Taming of The Shrew into an angsty teen romcom that starred Alex Mack and had Heath Ledger singing Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” is sheer genius. Plus, this movie helped prevent me from dating any unworthy guys in high school. If he wasn’t willing to hire the school marching band to woo me or wasn’t going to buy me a guitar every time he screwed up, then no thanks.

                                                                 
#7 – 500 Days of Summer
I first fell in love with 500 Days of Summer, when I was visiting the Mud Truck in Astor Place one summer afternoon and got a free iced coffee as part of Fox Searchlight’s brilliant “500 Treats of Summer” marketing campaign. Having just found out that my hipster roommate was leaving me to live with other hipsters, I was very bitter towards the whole hipster race and had no intention of seeing this hipster movie. But after the free iced coffee, I figured – why not? I ended up seeing it 3 times in theaters, and I watch it every single time I have a bad day. It’s not for everyone because, as it states upfront, it’s not a love story. It’s just a story about love, and that’s what I find so charming about it.


#6 – A Walk To Remember
I fully recognize how incredibly amazing The Notebook is. And when it comes down to it, The Notebook is absolutely a better movie. But I personally like A Walk To Remember more. Maybe it’s because I read both books before the movies, and A Walk To Remember was hands down the better book so I cared more about it. Maybe it’s because I was Jamie, not Allie, in high school. Maybe it’s because the soundtrack had FOUR Mandy Moore originals. Maybe it’s because Shane West is sexier than Ryan Gosling (Yep, I said it). All I know is after watching A Walk To Remember, I made a bucket list and put the pressure on my boyfriend                                                        at the time to make it happen. I never wanted him                                                         to build me a house.


#5 – Titanic
To say I am excited for the 3-D re-release in April is an understatement. I freaking did a back flip from my office chair when I heard the news. Titanic came out when I was in the 3rd grade. It was the first PG-13 movie my parents ever took me to and they didn’t even make me close my eyes during the “naked kissing” scenes. Right after it, I told my Dad that I wanted to go to “movie school” and he told me I should go to NYU (which I did). Years later, my best friend and I still take a “King of the World” picture every time we are on a boat and write “You jump, I jump” in every birthday card we give each other.


#4 – Love Actually
I watch this movie a minimum of 5 times during Christmas – once while I’m baking cookies, once while I’m decorating the house, once during the first snow, and twice when wrapping presents. Like the poster says, it is the ULTIMATE romantic comedy. You think you love Jamie and Aurelia the most because they’re true soulmates, but then Hugh Grant dances to The Pointer Sisters, and Carl takes his shirt off, and Mark does that whole cute thing with the signs, and Daniel & Sam re-enact the Titanic, and Billy Mack strips down on camera and… actually, you love every character equally! Except Professor Snape. He’s horrible.


#3 – Ghost
It is easy to decide whether you are a Ghost person or a Dirty Dancing person. You just have to watch both sex scenes (which both include a shirtless Patrick Swayze, a record player, and an element of dance) and decide – if you were given the opportunity, would you rather be in Demi Moore or Jennifer Grey’s scene? For me, it’s Ghost. Patrick Swayze makes the first move, Righteous Brothers are on, they’re in a sexy New York loft, and there’s something so erotic about them being covered in clay. But if you’d rather make the first move and do it in a twin bed in a cabin somewhere to a song no one’s ever head of – you’re a Dirty Dancing person.


#2 – When Harry Met Sally
When Harry Met Sally is the perfect example of a romantic comedy because it is just as romantic as it is comedic. It also was completely ahead of its time, setting out to prove that friends with benefits never works before friends with benefits was even a term. If you thought that last year’s Justin Timberlake/Mila Kunis and/or Ashton Kutcher/Natalie Portman movies were good, then do yourself a favor and re-watch this 80s gem. It’s way better and you’ll be quoting it for days.

               

               
#1 – Shakespeare in Love
I told you already that I am a Shakespeare freak – so a movie that ties in elements of Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, and multiple other Shakespearean plays is right up my alley. But even if it wasn’t, I still think Shakespeare in Love would be at the top of my list. After all, what is more romantic than a story about the King of Love falling in love? Especially when the Shakespeare in this particular story looks nothing like the receding hairline, mustached man we know from that portrait, but instead has a full head of hair, a chiseled body, and wears eyeliner. And we haven’t even gotten to Ben Affleck’s or Colin Firth’s parts!

So that’s my list. Like I said, it’s missing a lot of good ones – i.e. The Notebook, Pretty Woman, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Dirty Dancing, Say Anything, The Princess Bride, Ever After, Moulin Rouge, and ton of others. But you gotta draw the line somewhere. What’s your top 10?