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I Love You, Beth Cooper (2009)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 11/3/2009

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/8/2009

In my recent review for Love Actually, I wrote about how movies can be like recipes and how scanning the ingredients can often give you an idea of what the movie will be like. Let's take I Love You, Beth Cooper for example. The movie is based upon a popular and generally well-accepted novel. The director is an industry veteran who has some big titles under his belt. The star is an up-and-coming actress who has made a splash on TV. This all sounds good, right? So why is this movie such a stinker?

Denis Cooverman (Paul Rust) is the valedictorian of his high school and for lack of a better word, a nerd. Feeling that graduation will be his last chance to speak his mind, during his commencement speech he insults several people and professes his love to head cheerleader Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere), despite the fact that they hardly know one another. Following the ceremony, Denis is approached by Beth and he invites her to his house for a graduation party. He is also approached by Beth's boyfriend, Kevin (Shawn Roberts), who is an angry soldier. That night, Denis and his best friend, Rich (Jack T. Carpenter), are surprised when Beth and her two friends, Cammy (Lauren London) and Treece (Lauren Storm), show up at Denis' house. Unfortunately, Kevin and his buddies do as well. Fed up with Kevin's violent behavior, Beth decides to "rescue" Denis and soon he, Rich, and the girls are running for their lives. Thus begins a night of adventure and debauchery where Denis will learn what teenaged life is really like and that Beth isn't what she appears to be.

In the promotional material for I Love You, Beth Cooper, we are told that the film is both a homage to and a satire of teenaged movies. However, I don't think that this memo made it to the makers of the film. Larry Doyle based the script on his own novel. I haven't read the book, but excerpts and reviews point to the fact that it's clever and takes a skewed look at high school life. Director Chris Columbus appears to be attempting a return to his directorial debut, Adventures in Babysitting. It's clear that their goal was to make a fun and exciting movie.

But, all that they've made is a movie which looks exactly like every other dumb teenaged party movie out there. Whatever they thought that they were inserting to set this apart from other films doesn't translate well on-screen. For example, the characters are all stereotypes. If we believe the promotional material, this was done on purpose to, again, spoof these films. But, all that we are left with is a bunch of stereotypes. There's a fine line between saying that you are spoofing something and offering nothing original. We are treated to the exact kind of shenanigans which we've seen in films like Can't Hardly Wait or Say Anything....

The failure of the story plays directly into the fact that the movie isn't funny. Again, my understanding is that the novel has funny descriptions of people and events, but as they play out in the movie, they simply aren't funny. The attempts at humor here are either stale or needlessly cruel. I honestly don't think that I actually laughed at all during the movie.

The real weak link here is in the casting. 28-year old Paul Rust simply ruins the movie. He isn't believable as a teenager and his awkward behavior is too over-the-top for the movie. I disliked him from the second which he appeared on-screen and this drew me out of the movie. Are you telling me that they couldn't find an actual 18-year old actor to play this role?

98% of I Love You, Beth Cooper is lazy, bad, and humorless. This point is driven home by the two positive attributes in the film. One involves a scene in which Rich is given a chance to overcome a childhood injustice. This moment is actually quite clever and shows the kind of lost potential that the movie held. The other facet is the fact that the movie failed to delve more into Beth's character. Beth is the kind of girl who does what is expected of her in high school simply because she's popular. I knew girls like this in school and this sort of lonely soul would have made a good focus for the film. Alas, this is only blip on the radar of badness in this movie.

I honestly can't tell if I Love You, Beth Cooper was made for people who loved high school or hated it. This is the kind of film where every guy is either a nerd or a jock and every girl is a slut-in-training. There's no truth to that, and seeing this portrayed in a film is just sad. I Love You, Beth Cooper begins with a boy just trying to be honest and quickly devolves into a world of platitudes and cheap jokes.

I Love You, Beth Cooper is a terrible driver on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 35 Mbps. The image here is very sharp and clear, revealing no grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is quite good and the image has an excellent depth to it. The Disc offers a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. For a comedy, we get some nice audio here. The stereo effects are quite good and are nicely detailed. The surround sound really kicks in during the action scenes and the big party. These same action scenes provide good subwoofer effects, as does the music blaring from Kevin's Hummer.

The I Love You, Beth Cooper Blu-ray Disc contains several extras. The "Alternate Ending" (7 minutes) raises and answers the question, "How do you make a bad movie even worse?" This seems to go on forever and while it thinks that it's giving the audience what it wants, it really isn't. The Disc contains four DELETED SCENES which run about 8 minutes. These are mostly filler and don't add any new subplots or characters. "I Love You, Larry Doyle" (6 minutes) is an interview with the author of the source novel, who also wrote the script, where he discusses the story and its influences. We also got some comments from the cast. "We Are All Different, But That's a Good Thing" (9 minutes) looks at the cast of the film and contains interviews with the actors. "Peanut Butter Toast" (3 minutes) is a song performed by actor Paul Rust. Why? "Fox Movie Channel Presents In Character With Paul Rust" (3 minutes) is a brief promo for the film which offers soundbytes from Rust. "Fox Movie Channel Presents In Character with Hayden Panettiere" (3 minutes) echoes the last piece, but it focuses on Panettiere.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long