I Love You, Beth Cooper

If you can give me one good reason why Hollywooders, even hacks like director Chris Columbus (“Rent”), continue to churn out lame “” make that “permanently disabled” “” comedies like this one, without using the word “money” or a substitute that means the same thing, I will never write another negative word about “I Love You, Beth Cooper.”

You say it’s to relive their youths and reminisce about their school days? Bull. That’s what gave us “Animal House” and, yes, even the much-maligned “Porky’s.”

This one is scripted by Larry Doyle (“Duplex”) and based on a novel by him that I have not and will not read.

Denis Cooverman (Paul Rust, “Semi-Pro”) delivers a speech at his high school graduation in which he points out that a particular bully was probably an abused child, a certain ROTC jock named Kevin (Shawn Roberts, “Diary of the Dead”) is psychotic; a popular girl is a total bitch; his own best friend, Rich Munsch (Jack T. Carpenter, “Sydney White”), is still in the closet; and that he, Denis, is abidingly in love with head cheerleader Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere, TV’s “Heroes”).

SEMI-FUNNY GAG
He then narrowly avoids getting beaten to fertilizer by the bully and the jock, but still invites Beth and her two BFFs, Treece Kilmer (Lauren Storm, “The Game Plan”) and Cammy Alcott (Lauren London, “Next Day Air”), to a party at his house that night. Note that the movie’s only even semi-funny gag is Treece Kilmer’s name.

Denis’ parents (Alan Ruck, “Ghost Town,” and Cynthia Stevenson, “Agent Cody Banks”) leave him and Rich to themselves for this fete worse than death. Against all odds, the three girls show up “” they think a few minutes flirting with the nerds will be funny “” but then Kevin and his jock crew make the scene and tear the house to pieces. The girls rescue the nerds and the five of them hang out all night.

We’ll learn later that Kevin can’t afford to have another “incident” on his record and that he was coked up at Denis’ place. While I sat there trying to figure out why he would do such a stupid thing, several more stupid things took place that would land at least Beth in jail, and probably Treece, Cammy, Denis and Rich, as well.

The picture settles down into graduation night for the five adventurers as they try to avoid being caught by the ROTC thugs. They buy beer they’re too young to buy. They take a shower together at the school. Cammy, Treece and the sexually confused Rich indulge in a threesome in a woodsy cottage. My God, they even attempt to tip some cows. These damn kids today.

The whole enterprise is gratuitously derivative. Panettiere is pleasant enough, but Beth is bordering on having a dangerous personality disorder. Her blossoming relationship with Denis recalls the one between Sam and Mikela in the first “Transformers,” and I suspect that someone wants to see if Paul Rust can be transformed into another Shia LeBouf. He can’t.

I did not enjoy this movie. In fact, “Beth Cooper,” I love you not.

“”Doug Bentin

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