I Love You, Beth Cooper
Chris Columbus’ I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER is, I’m sad to say, a disgrace to coming-of-age teen comedies everywhere. I expected much more from the genius behind box office hits such as HOME ALONE and the first two HARRY POTTER movies, but his latest film is an excellent example of an idea that is lovely in theory, but completely broke down in the execution. I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER follows Denis Cooverman (played by Paul Rust of SEMI-PRO), the unpopular class valedictorian, as he embarks on a graduation night to remember with the head cheerleader (“Heroes” Hayden Panettiere) for whom he has just declared his love during his graduation speech. Between the mindless jokes (save a handful of almost-clever lines from Rust) and the ridiculously cliched high school shenanigans, it’s nearly impossible to identify any sort of actual plot. Falling off of roofs, using poorly made fake ID’s to buy beer, cheerleaders showering together, cheesy eighties flashbacks: would it have killed them to use just the slightest bit of creativity?
The characters are the same old tired archetypes we’ve seen a thousand times. Rust is the dorky but likable nice guy who falls for the popular girl who doesn’t know he exists, a role played to death by movies like SUPERBAD and KNOCKED UP (both of which were much better movies). Panettiere’s idiotic blonde friend is a clone of Amanda Seyfried’s character in MEAN GIRLS and frankly, I’m a little sick of seeing Panettiere playing a cheerleader. (This is her third time.) Her performance as the shallow wild child Beth Cooper drains the character of any depth the writers intended for her to have. This is a recurring phenomenon throughout the film. Any moment that should have some kind of emotional momentum is completely overtaken by the utter stupidity of every scene preceding and following it, aside from one nearly poignant encounter in which the school bully opens up to Denis about his childhood trauma. The other small glimmer of humor in the film is Alan Ruck as Denis’ father, but seeing him makes you wish you were watching him in FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF instead. I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER is almost like a parody of teen comedies, but much less humorous. Though it is about a group of teenagers graduating from high school, the film’s emotional and comedic level is closer to that of middle-schoolers or perhaps very mature elementary school students.