I Love You, Beth Cooper
You want to see how influential John Hughes was? See I Love You, Beth Cooper. It’s an idea he might have come up with himself. The school valedictorian – a class A geek – gets up to address his peers and their parents at graduation, and he recklessly declares his love for the prettiest girl in school. She, of course, barely even recognises him. Even so, she turns up that evening on his doorstep, just for a lark, and next thing you know they’re out for a night of unparalleled mayhem…
Forgotten how good Hughes was at what he did? See I Love You, Beth Cooper. It’s crude and clumsy, we don’t care about the characters, and the jokes… they’re just not funny. Even on an off-day (and he had them) Hughes managed better than this.
The similarity isn’t merely coincidental. I Love You, Beth Cooper is directed by Hughes acolyte, Chris Columbus – of Home Alone and Harry Potter fame. Columbus got his start under Hughes’ auspices, and he’s even cast Alan Ruck – formerly Ferris Bueller’s best friend – as Mr Cooverman, father of the geek in question.
His boy, Denis, is played by Paul Rust, who certainly looks the part: he’s lanky and affable, with a schnozzle that Jimmy Durante would envy (in a genuine coincidence, Rust also has a small role as Private Kagan one of the Inglourious Basterds).
The girl is Hayden Panettiere, the blonde starlet more familiar from the gossip rags than her movies. Beth Cooper is far and away the most interesting role in the film – when Denis gets to know her, he’s shocked and disappointed by her rough edges. She uses her sexuality practically, to get what she wants. She’s apprehensive that her best days are already behind her – she doesn’t have the brains or the background to make a go of it outside of high school, or so she fears. And while Denis is no catch, she’s not so stuck on herself that she can’t envision having a good time with him, if only he’d relax.
A sharper actress might have done something special with this part, but Panettiere is too pouty and vacuous to give it more than spottings of life.
And Rust is stuck with a caricature of a part: Denis wards off Beth’s military boyfriend with his light sabre and later flashes his Spidey Y-fronts. He even does himself an injury opening a bottle of champagne. For someone who’s supposed to be bright, he never shows a modicum of intelligence – let alone common sense.
Better in its quieter scenes, the movie feels old and desperately tired whenever Columbus tries to push it towards farce – which is often, unfortunately. It doesn’t help that it’s never believable just on the basic level of logistics: character A meeting up with B and going to C.
I didn’t buy any of it: in the real world, this girl wouldn’t hang out with Denis for a
Sorry – but I really hated Beth Cooper.
Titles related to this article