Sometimes, a movie comes along that you just have to be in a good mood to enjoy. All things considered, the movie is terrible, but on that particular day, at that particular time, something was clicking and you walked out pleasantly surprised. I Love You, Beth Cooper was one of those films for me. As silly and contrived as it is, it's also plain lighthearted fun, a fluff piece of entertainment that can easily kill an hour and a half without wasteful regret.
Paul Rust plays Denis, a graduating high school senior who is in love with Beth Cooper (natch), played by the gorgeous Hayden Panettiere. He's the valedictorian of his class and during his speech at the graduation ceremony, he confesses his feelings for her. Once the ceremony is over, Cooper confronts him and tells him that it was embarrassing, but also sort of sweet, so he invites her to his "party," which consists only of him and his nerdy best friend, Rich, played by Jack Carpenter. Unfortunately, Cooper's angry military boyfriend is on the way to his house to teach Denis a lesson. Cooper and her friends grab Denis and Rich, getting them out of harm's way, and go on an adventure together in this harmless rom-com.
At one point in the film, Denis and his father are having a talk where he is told to have fun because this is his last summer before college. He wants him to experience everything he hasn't yet had a chance to. Denis replies that the whole "coming of age thing is relatively new" for high school kids. Regrettably, the whole "coming of age thing" is hardly new in film and this clichéd picture certainly isn't going to reinvent the genre. In fact, there's a whole lot to not like about I Love You, Beth Cooper.
The material here is awful and on paper, none of the jokes are funny, consisting mostly of scatological humor and slapstick gags, the most lowbrow comedy there is. The main character, Denis, is kind of a creeper. Before he confessed his love to Cooper at graduation, he had never spoken a word to her, yet he knows everything about her, where she likes to go, what her favorite food is, etc. He even has a giant sized poster of her on his ceiling above his bed, and you can imagine why it might be placed at such a strategic position. Top onto this the cheesy ending with awful dialogue and the film just kind of runs out of steam.
Regardless of these problems, the actors in the film do a terrific job, doing the best they can with limited resources. Rust actually manages to make Denis a likable guy, despite his odd tendency to alarmingly obsess over a girl. He looked comfortable in front of the camera and had a certain amiable appeal as the loser nerd. And Panettiere is bubbly and fun, perfectly playing the beautiful wild child who sees herself only as a person men want to be with for one night rather than simply be with.
Despite its contrivances, its predictability, its poorly written script, its bland direction, and its stupid humor, the lively performances make I Love You, Beth Cooper kind of sweet. It's no prize winner, but then again, it's not trying to be. What the cast does is take a poorly devised comedy and make it tolerable enough that you'll walk out smiling. What more could you ask for?
I Love You, Beth Cooper receives 2.5/5