reviewed by Marc Glassman
I Love You, Beth Cooper
Chris Columbus, director. Larry Doyle, script from his novel. Starring: Hayden Panettiere (Beth Cooper), Paul Rust (Denis Cooverman), Jack Carpenter (Rich Munsch), Lauren London (Cammy Alcott), Lauren Storm (Treece Kilmer), Shawn Roberts (Kevin), Alan Ruck (Mr. Cooverman), Cynthia Stevenson (Mrs. C)
When high school valedictorian Denis Cooverman speaks the truth in his class speech—that he loves the gorgeous cheerleader Beth Cooper—you expect sparks to fly. And they do all too predictably in the formulaic teen comedy I Love You, Beth Cooper.
The night of his speech, Denis and his best friend Rich receive a visit from Beth and her sexy girlfriends Cammy and Treece. Trailing them are three Army boys led by hunky Kevin, who loves Beth and wants to beat up Denis. So the “fun” begins.
The girls decide to take Denis and Rich on the ride of their lives with the macho boys in hot pursuit. There are the requisite party scenes, crazy driving episodes, and outdoors sequences with nasty cows and raccoons. (Pretty mild, no?)
The tension, such as it is, involves nerdy Denis not being able to move past “first base” with the hot Beth—which makes no sense since he’s already declared his passion for her in front of the whole school. A secondary plot around Rich’s ambiguous sexual nature feels so old fashioned—who care whether a modern California teen is gay?—that you wonder whether the plot of this film has been borrowed holus-bolus from the ‘80s.
The one interesting aspect of the film is Beth Cooper. Played winningly by Hayden Panettiere, she’s more than a silly blonde doll. Beth is feisty, funny and a take-charge kind of gal. It’s Denis who seems one-dimensional in comparison—and Paul Rust is charmless in the role.
In the end, you wish Beth Cooper or Hayden Panettiere would end up with neither Kevin nor Denis—but with a better script.