IN 1981, a 15-year-old Brooke Shields starred in a film that was, at the time, just another in a seemingly ceaseless line of exploitative, inappropriate roles: a bizarre, R-rated teen romance called Endless Love. Unlike her previous parts in The Blue Lagoon and Pretty Baby—two of Hollywood's most beloved, weirdly unapologetic dalliances into child pornography—Endless Love isn't particularly well remembered. It's a kaleidoscopic, Vaseline-lensed, psychosexual monstrosity of a film that's neither good nor bad enough to feel all that sacred about. But for a certain appropriately aged and impressionable audience, it's exactly the type of movie to leave pockmarks on a fragile, prepubescent psyche.
Inexplicably/inevitably, Endless Love gets a contemporary update just in time for Valentine's Day 2014, and the results are somehow at once bewildering and exactly what you'd expect. Like the original, 2014's Endless Love is a movie about obsessive first love between semi-star-crossed teen lovers—this time played out by two unmemorable and uncharismatic actors, both comfortably in their mid-20s. It's about at this point that the two films make a dramatic divergence, however—Brooke's Endless Love is a soft-core, Freudian after-school special about obsession, possession, and the unstable pathology of teenage love; its protagonist (played awkwardly by Martin Hewitt) is creepy, unlikeable, and is, at one point, literally institutionalized for burning down his Brooke's house. (It doesn't really make any sense.) The remake completely flips the script: David, the protagonist, is a decent, misunderstood romantic from the wrong side of the tracks, beaten down by the unreasonable demands of his paramour's overprotective father. It's basically like remaking Fatal Attraction, but with Glenn Close holding a boombox over her head instead of boiling rabbits.
Ironically, it's an effect that actually makes Endless Love Redux a semi-functional movie—which is more than you can say for the original. But it also misses the point completely.