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Coitus Calvin-esque

Endless Love Directed by Franco Zeffirelli At the Sack Cheri "Young girl, get out of my life My love for you is way out of line"-- traditional 60s ballad

By William E. Mckibben

BROOKE SHIELDS HAS made several anti-smoking commercials in recent months, in an attempt to steer her peers away from the evil wood. Now, underwritten by conservative religious groups, she has released a documentary about what happens when kids couple. And the news is hot good; not good at all. You can do a lot of things in this world and no one will think too badly of you. You can fill oil tanks with seawater and sell stock, you can use every sort of calumny in pursuit of political power, you can even charge lots of money for tickets to bad movies. But you cannot, under any circumstances, gain carnal knowledge of young girls. Dave Axelrod (Martin Hewitt) finds this out the hard way--for a few months everything is cool (steamy hot, really), as he and young Ms. Shields make love at every opportunity. But sin never goes unpunished; halfway through the film, our stud almost dies in a house fire, and as the final credits roll he is confined, for the second time, to an insane asylum.

That short description may make this film sound more entertaining than it actually is, since it really isn't any fun at all. Oh, they had a good enough idea for getting the everpopular Shields out of her clothes (last summer Brooke found love on a tropical isle: this summer she's in suburban Chicago: next summer the hot-and-heavy will either be aboard the space shuttle or in a Back Bay condominium). But the plot is, as Brooke's father says of his daughter's lust, "totally out of control."

We first meet the cast at Brooke's (Jade's) house. It's party time, and her parents, who have never recovered from the 60s, are a big part of it all, smoking dope with the kids, hugging and kissing everyone, getting down and getting wasted. But then everybody leaves, and Brooke and friend settle down for the evening, he clad in his Fruit-of-the-Looms, and she wearing only tricky camera angles that preserve whatever innocence she has left after so many sleazy roles.

The two of them don't worry much about being caught: Jade figures her progressive parents (Morn writes for The Atlantic) won't care Indeed, mother is the first to catch on to their little game: she looks horrified at first, and then a little turned-on, returning to her bed not to inform her husband of what's happening by the fireplace, but instead to make love to him. Later, when he finds out, she sticks up for her little girl. "They're rather sweet, like bats," she says, a little cryptically. "I know it's different, but aren't you happy she finally has someone?" she asks. Finally? The girl is 15. The husband, despite his progressivism, seems to realize this: he quickly downs a slug of orange juice, and soon informs the 17-year-old to leave his daughter alone.

The decision clicits a tantrum from young Brooke. Her slightly older consort, though, reacts with far more maturity--he sets fire to Jade's house. Many people think the desire of landlords to collect insurance money leads to most arson: statistics prove, however, that thwarted young love is, more often than not, real cause. When he tries to rescue Jade from the blaze he almost dies. He is then sentenced to several years in a state psychiatric institution. The names in this story have been changed to protect the innocent. But that isn't the end, unfortunately.

When next we see our villain, he is confined to the institution, where he is slowly going crazy, not to mention acquiring an unkempt personal appearance. There are several tearful scenes with his parents (who are square and lawyers, but much easier to deal with than Brooke's elders). Finally, after he looks in the mirror and sees Brooke staring back, he manages to talk his way out of the giggle house. Another natural ending. But no; he is obsessed still by Ms. Shields, and sets out across the country to find her.

Arriving in New York, he rejects the seductive caresses of her mother, watches as her father dies chasing him, and finally tracks down his lost love. She says it's over, he begins to rape her, and she decides they can start all over again. He just must be something else between the sheets.

WHY HAVE I given away away the entire plot? So that you won't go to see this film. Not only is the outline weak, but everything else is too. Brooke (who--the film's one saving grace--has never looked more beautiful) pulls off only one scene credibly--throwing a screaming, kicking tantrum at the news that her human vibrator is now off-limits. One senses that she has had much practice with scenes of this sort. Hewitt is even worse. He doesn't seem to have even a little evil in him, even wearing the three-day growth of stubble that clings stubbornly to his chin throughout his hospitalization. And he seems to have no sense of humor; he never says anything funny to his amour, only "I love you." "I'd die without you." "I never want to stop loving you. In fact, that may be the oldest thing about this movie. They never, ever do anything together except the old...well, you know. If they are so in love, you think it might be appropriate for them to occasionally spend some time together just talking. After all, it's not so unusual for youngsters these days to be sexually precocious. But most of them also take in the occasional movie. Not these two, though. It's just one long embrace.

Even if the plot and acting had been more vigorous, they would have been killed by the direction. No scene in the second half of the movie seems to last more than a minute: every time you look up, it's a different city or a different bedroom. And the attempt to show the pain and increasing psychosis of our young stud are grotesque--his sleep is haunted by dreams of his little jailbait which appear to have been filmed in a tank filled with Aqua Velva. Tricky camerawork spoken here--there aresaerial shots of the amatory action, which seem to have been shot by a helicopter circling the living room. The biggest technical problem must have been filming all the lovemaking without showing an inch of Brooke that a modest, one-piece bathing suit wouldn't reveal. The one shot of a (gasp!) nipple is courtesy of a stand-in.

THE AUDIENCE FOR this movie, like the crowd that showed up at Blue Lagoon, seems about equally divided between young folks, who howl at the dialogue, and middleaged women, the sort who look as if they frequent the Gothic Books section of their local drugstore, and who sit in awed silence, except for one matron in front of me, who yelled serveral times for the hooting teens to shut up. These plain women believe in the movie, in its fantasy look at beautiful young girls. And they obviously approve of its moral message, which is the centerpiece of this movie. They never spent hot nights in the suburbs, feeling the horniness that comes as much from boredom as passion. They share the movie's idea that young love is powerful, but they are virtuous enough to know its temptations should be resisted.

And the makers of this movie don't have the guts to tell them otherwise. They have written a romantic saga, where in the end the guy does get his girl. But it's quite clear what pubescent sex will do to those who practice it. They will be caught in house fires, or confined to psychiatric institutions. "Do that and you'll go soft. Do that and you'll burn in hell." Or go blind. Warning: The Surgeon General has determined that statutory rape is dangerous to your health. Join the un-hooked generation.

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