Let’s be frank. "Endless Love" is a terrible movie. It’s as if a studio decided they needed a new teen romance to fill in their winter lineup, so they threw a 1950s melodrama, a rebellious teen movie and a grieving family cryfest into a blender. Then, they drank the concoction, threw it up, cried in the bathroom for twenty minutes over the mess, and paid a lot of money for a "hip" soundtrack in hopes to recoup a fraction of the massive loss they realized they were about to take.
I’ll take a step back and briefly explain the "plot" of "Endless Love." The protagonist, Jade Butterfield (Gabriella Wilde), has somehow graduated high school without making any friends, despite being pretty, smart and constantly wearing a vapid smile. On the day of graduation, she falls hopelessly in love with David (Alex Pettyfer) because he literally talks to her once. But Jade’s motivelessly evil father (Bruce Greenwood) forbids her from seeing David, and the next hour and a half of the film unfolds in a mess that’s as awful as it is unintentionally hilarious.
Despite all this vitriol, I highly recommend seeing "Endless Love." In fact, I believe it should be a cultural requirement. This is the best bad movie to come around in a very long time, so I’m going to try to convince you to forget about your Friday night plans and go see this wonderfully terrible Valentine’s Day movie.
Reason one: It’s incredibly bad, but shockingly watchable.
Remember the first two "Twilight" movies? Remember how they were really bad, but the people involved were actually trying, so it was fun to watch them even though they sucked? "Endless Love" has "Twilight" levels of horrible writing and acting combined with an intense level of involvement from the people involved. Wilde is as committed to her character as Stewart was uninterested in hers, and this makes for an insanely watchable trainwreck. You will cry from laughter during "Endless Love."
Reason two: It’s an audience experience.
"Endless Love" is so bad that everyone can love hating it. I saw the film at an advance screening mostly consisting of teenage girls. Within ten minutes, the audience had lost interest. Within thirty minutes, we were completely enthralled by how terrible it was. Everyone in the theater felt equally free to laugh, boo and groan as loudly as possible. During one of the many dramatic revelations, an audience member felt comfortable enough to sarcastically gasp, and we applauded him. It’s one of the most fun group viewing experiences I’ve had in years.
Reason three: You can learn a lot about your date from watching this with him/her.
Watching "Endless Love" with your valentine should be the ultimate litmus test for the suitability of a romantic partner. If they don’t feel free to laugh at its awfulness, you know they’re too uptight. If they don’t make at least one well-timed sarcastic comment, you know they’re not funny enough. And if they like it...well, hopefully there will be other people in the theater you can sit with.
Reason four: Alex Pettyfer is really, really, really bad.
Hollywood has been struggling for the past several years to find its new go-to white male heartthrob after Robert Pattinson disappeared, and Pettyfer has been given many chances to fill this void. He bored us to tears in "I Am Number Four," he starred in the utterly unwatchable "Beastly" and he even had a nonsensical appearance in Lee Daniels’ "The Butler." But I sincerely hope "Endless Love" will be the last nail in the coffin of Pettyfer’s career. He reaches new lows as an actor, awkwardly smirking his way through the romantic scenes and ugly-crying his heart out without eliciting anything but scorn from the audience. He’s also completely inappropriate for the part, looking 25 while his waiflike girlfriend looks about 15. This is bad acting at its finest, and everyone should witness this firsthand, then cry at the fact that he’s been screen-tested for Star Wars VII.
Reason five: The line.
There is one line in this movie that is so stupidly perfect, it may be the best bad line in the 21st century. I’m not giving it away here, but this line alone is worth the price of admission. It’s said by Pettyfer, of course, it occurs about halfway through the movie and if it doesn’t make you involuntarily dissolve into laughter, you may not be human.
As I left the theater following "Endless Love," I was stunned by what I’d just seen. I felt like the audience should have been greeted with a gift shop selling "I Survived Endless Love" t-shirts and have monthly meetings where we reminisce about the tragedy we’d witnessed together. Then I heard a girl behind me say, "That was really *expletive* bad. But...I kinda loved it." And I realized I did, too.