'What's more important than love?" asks the moony-eyed garage mechanic's son at the start of Endless Love.
How about a decent screenplay?
A jaw-dropping groanfest of teen romance cliches, the new Endless Love - which bears but passing resemblance to the 1979 Scott Spencer novel and 1981 film - is about two ridiculously photogenic high school seniors who fall hopelessly head over heels.
Well, Jade Butterfield (Gabriella Wilde), has been a virtual shut-in since her older brother died a few years back. She found comfort in books, she stayed close to home. Friends? She has none. Grief becomes her.
David Elliot (Alex Pettyfer) already has a girlfriend, and didn't think he had a chance. Jade's dad is a heart surgeon, her mom an author. David's pop is a grease monkey, his mother long-gone.
But then the swoony twosome of Shana Feste's Endless Love lock eyes at graduation, and later at a country club party where David is parking cars.
"I've wanted to kiss you since 10th grade," he confesses.
He had her at the apostrophe.
There is more than just class divide, however, blocking Jade and David's beeline to bliss. Jade's father, Hugh, played by a tight-faced Bruce Greenwood, is wary of David from the start. A parking valet for his little girl, who's landed a prestigious summer internship before starting her first semester, pre-med, at Brown? Maybe if he hires a detective, the father thinks, he can dig up an arrest record or something.
And David's girlfriend, Jenny (Emma Rigby), doesn't like the look of things either when she spies her beau cavorting with that rich, twiggy blonde in vintage frocks and high-tops.
A zoo break-in, a run-in with the law, a you're-not-good-enough-for-her speech, a restraining order, a house fire, and some shocking infidelity at the lake house ensue.
Wilde, who had the role of Sue Snell, the spiteful cheerleader of last year's Carrie remake, throws her eyes this way and that, looking forlorn or defiant, lovesick or lusty, like a fashion model changing hues as her photographer shouts out the moods.
Pettyfer, great as the newbie male stripper in Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike, has a grin and a chin that women melt for. Even Joely Richardson, as Jade's mother, looks like she's tumbling for the guy.
If all the mush, melodrama, and mellow indie anthems aren't reason enough to steer clear of this Valentine's Day disaster, maybe the Made in America Movement should organize a boycott. Yes, Stealth Brit alert! Castmates Wilde, Pettyfer, Rigby, and Richardson all hail from the U.K., and Greenwood from Canada.
What's with that?
Endless Love *1/2 (Out of four stars)
Directed by Shana Feste. With Gabriella Wilde, Alex Pettyfer, Bruce Greenwood, and Joely Richardson. Distributed by Universal Pictures.
Running time: 1 hour, 43 mins.
Parent's guide: PG-13 (sex, profanity, adult themes)
Playing at: area theaters