Valentine’s Day weekend brings the remake of two iconic romance films from the 1980’s: Endless Love, starring Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt, and About Last Night, starring Demi Moore and Rob Lowe.
Let’s start with Endless Love: Fifteen year old Jade Butterfield is in love with her seventeen year old boyfriend, David Axelrod, and he is obsessively in love with her. They exist in that sort of passion bubble – the kind that makes anyone who has been lucky enough to experience it believe that love is, in fact, a form of temporary insanity.
David has ingratiated himself into Jade’s family, a household of fading WASP grandeur and bohemianism. David’s parents are strict Jewish intellectuals. Anyway, Jade and David’s flagrant sexuality (including sleepovers during school nights) really tests the limits of Jade’s father, Hugh, and he bans David from the house for a month so things can cool down. But David can’t stand to be away, and so he gets the idea from some idiot friend (Hello, Tom Cruise cameo in his first role) to set fire to the house, then put it out and save everyone – thus becoming the hero. Sounds crazy, but when you see how otherworldly gorgeous Brooke Shields is in this movie, it’s hard to blame the guy. Needless to say, things go very badly. The take-away from the movie is the thing that Jade struggles with after all the drama: She says to her mother that no one will ever love her the way David did. And as the audience, we know, wistfully, that she is right.
About Last Night is ostensibly a comedy, but it touches on some real emotional moments and true relationship pitfalls. It’s the story of Debbie and Danny. She is an advertising executive, he sells restaurant supplies and dreams of opening his own restaurant. They meet cute, have a one-night stand, and it probably should have ended there, but Debbie has no shame and goes back for more. Despite himself, womanizing Danny falls in love with her. Their obnoxious and envious friends, Bernie (James Belushi) and Joan (Elizabeth Perkins) do everything they can to break them up. Still, the thing that ultimately does them in is the way they take each other for granted when they finally have a committed relationship. I don’t want to give too much away, but there is a devastating scene where Dan is asking Debbie to come back to him, and she says – and ladies, have we all not had this conversation, or at least though it: “I gave you love. And you asked me to leave. AND I LEFT!
The movie rises above typical rom-com fare because Demi Moore is raw and vulnerable. It’s one of the few films you can watch and forget she’s Demi Moore and believe she is “everywoman.” Her love for Danny, and her willingness to put herself out there in order to get that love in return, is beautiful.
There were small moments that made each of these films truly special. I don’t have faith that the re-makes will offer such gems of their own, so I will happily live in the past and keep my movie memories circa 1981 and 1986.