I Love You, Beth Cooper

I Love You, Beth Cooper


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

When did coming-of-age get so trashy? There was always an amount of booze and badness but lately all the fun and teen-dream romance of the last days of high school seem to have been surgically removed, only to be replaced by sexual innuendo and cynicism. It’s as if those who grew up with the films of John Hughes feel that the latest generation of teenagers need something edgier to keep their attention, forgetting that – although the gadgets and gizmos may change – the pains of growing up have an enduring quality that tends to get passed down the generations.

There is also a recent tendency towards ‘stunt casting’ in a bid, one can only presume, to entice in parents and so, just as Stay Cool is littered with ‘faces we remember’ in a bid to drum up some much-needed nostalgia, here the honours fall to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off co-star Alan Ruck, who plays Denis’s ‘right on’ dad. Sadly, that is where the similarities to that laugh-out-loud classic end.

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Denis (Paul Rust) is a dweeb. On the last day of high school, he decides to use his valedictory speech to proclaim his love for Beth Cooper (Heroes’ Hayden Panetierre) – who is as hotty as he is notty. Amazingly, Beth is vaguely touched by the gesture and, possibly as a way of getting one up on her Army boyfriend Kevin (Shawn Roberts), turns up – with two impossibly gorgeous friends in tow (Lauren London and Lauren Storm) - to the ‘party’ he is having with is-he-gay-or-not? best pal Rich (Jack Carpenter). When Kevin decides to crash the party and smash the house, it is the cue for a night of mayhem, which will involve attempts at cow tipping, a lot of drink, a trip to the school gym and Denis getting injured more times than the bad guys in Home Alone.

In fact, it is his own Home Alone to which Columbus owes the biggest debt. No opportunity to beat Denis about the head is to be missed, whether with fists, a skeleton’s arms or simply by broadsiding him with a car. So much emphasis is put on the crash-bang-wallop of pratfalling that it leaves the sensitive moments in the script completely stranded, unable to make themselves felt for fear they may get a punch in the mouth. Every time there is a gear change from ‘funny’ to ‘emotional’ it grates. When the softer romantic or buddy moments do come, Panetierre, Rust and Carpenter do their utmost to rescue them, but they are swimming against the tide of both Columbus’s direction – riddled with bad blocking, which makes virtually every scene look as though it’s escaped from a TV show - and a tired and cliched script.

“This is not fun any more,” says Denis midway through the movie.

“Who said it’s supposed to be fun?” answers Beth.

Note to the producers: someone should have said that at the very first script meeting, shame it seems no one did.

Reviewed on: 27 Aug 2009
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Mayhem ensues after a high school nerd declares his love for a cheerleader in his valedictory speech.
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Director: Chris Columbus

Writer: Larry Doyle

Starring: Hayden Panettiere, Paul Rust, Jack Carpenter, Lauren London, Lauren Storm, Shawn Roberts, Jared Keeso, Brendan Penny, Marie Avgeropoulos, Josh Emerson, Alan Ruck, Cynthia Stevenson, Pat Finn, Andrea Savage, Violet Columbus

Year: 2009

Runtime: 102 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Canada, US


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If you like this, try:

Home Alone
Stay Cool