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“I Love You, Beth Cooper”-(Chris)
Chris Pandolfi
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date:
Special Features:

Featurettes / deleted scenes / 2 movie channel specials ***


What, I ask you, would be accomplished by humiliating your high school classmates during a graduation speech? And I mean other than making everyone hate you. In “I Love You, Beth Cooper,” valedictorian Denis Cooverman (Paul Rust) uses his final speech as an opportunity to say what he has been longing to say ever since his freshman days, none more important the five words that make up the film’s title. ***

Other than her, he mentions no one else by name; he only alludes to specific people by describing obvious character traits. You can be sure that everyone knew who he was referring to, and that brings me back to the question I posed at the start of this review. When you use your graduation as a platform to put other people down, you should not be surprised when they get very angry at you. ***

“I Love You, Beth Cooper” opens on a wrong premise. The entire film is wrong. On every level imaginable. It’s not funny. It’s not cute. It’s not even remotely engaging or clever in its approach to the story. It’s a brainless, mean-spirited film that treats comedy like a second-class citizen. ***

It’s appalling that it was directed by Chris Columbus, who once proved he could be entertaining with such fun fare as “Home Alone,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Rent,” and the first two “Harry Potter” films. For “I Love You, Beth Cooper,” the Directors Guild of America should have done him a favor and resurrected that old standby Alan Smithee, a pseudonym for directors who didn’t want their real names attached their films. ***

Having been embarrassed in front of the whole graduating class, Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere) and her dimwitted friends decide it would be funny to go to Denis’ house, where he and his friend, Rich Munsch (Jack T. Carpenter), host a pathetic post-graduate party that absolutely no one wants to go to. Does Beth like Denis? Not really. But she does find him amusing. ***

Her boyfriend, a testosterone-pumping, cocaine-sniffing military brute named Kevin (Shawn Roberts), does not find him amusing at all. In fact, he would like nothing more than to slowly and painfully kill Denis, preferably when it also involves the destruction of private property. Hoping to escape Kevin, Beth takes Denis and Rich on an all-night road trip in her mini hatchback. Maybe “road trip” isn’t the right term – Beth has the driving skills of a chimpanzee. ***

Along the way, Beth and Denis begin the process of getting to know one another. More accurately, Denis tries to survive Beth while she stands back and watches him continually make a fool of himself. I guess we’re supposed to sympathize with her somewhere along the way, seeing as she gradually reveals her emotional side, calloused over after years of being used by other boys. ***

Did Columbus and screenwriter Larry Doyle (who adapted his own novel) actually believe that this movie could make us care about her situation? When you willingly include a scene in which tampons are used to stop a nosebleed, you can’t believably pause to make a meaningful statement. You definitely can’t hint at the possibility of a sweet teenage romance. ***

Most importantly, you can’t begin a story with an act of stupidity and then expect the audience to blindly accept everything that happens afterwards. In all honesty, part of me sided with Denis’ classmates – God knows I’d be mad as hell if I was outed in front of everyone. There’s absolutely nothing to be gained by pointing out someone’s eating disorder, exposing the emotional turmoil raging within the school bully, or encouraging your best friend to come out of the closet. ***

I’m referring to Rich, who constantly quotes from movies and has the uncanny ability to name the actor who said it, the movie it was said in, and the year the movie was released. If there’s one thing most people can’t stand, it’s when someone goes through life as an unwanted human encyclopedia. ***

Special Features:

This DVD comes with a selection of deleted scenes, including an alternate ending. Also included are two featurettes – “I Love You, Larry Doyle” and “We Are All Different, But That’s a Good Thing: On Set with the Cast” – as well as two episodes of “Fox Movie Channel Presents”: “In Character with Hayden Panettiere” and “In Character with Raul Rust.” The film is presented in its original 1.85:1 widescreen format and features Dolby 5.1 Digital sound. ***

Final Words:

There is such a thing a good escapist comedy. I gave passing grades to both “Balls of Fury” and “My Best Friend’s Girl,” two films that most critics dismissed as cinematic garbage. I felt they had ambition. “I Love You, Beth Cooper” most definitely did not. It only wanted to be a mindless farce about idiotic people. Denis, who clearly doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut, is the most idiotic person of all. Then again, maybe that distinction belongs to Columbus, who seems to have forgotten what a movie needs in order to work. Let’s hope he gets his memory back.


Copyright @ Teakwood Productions 2000
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