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I Love You Beth Cooper (2009)

PG-13 0 minutes

Directed by Chris Columbus
Written by Larry Doyle

 · Hayden Panettiere
 · Paul Rust
 · Jack Carpenter
 · Lauren London
 · Lauren Storm
 · Alan Ruck

Review by Reel American Hero (Mike Keskeys)

A year ago before I head out on a road trip, I asked my brother to recommend a book I should read for the trip, and he recommended the novel 'I Love You Beth Cooper' by Larry Doyle.  I read the book in a day and a half, well before I even went on the trip, and when I did, I read the book a second time.  The book itself is a hilarious and touching adventure for anyone who's ever felt awkward in their life, (i.e. they've been to high school, or have had that unrequited crush/love that they never got the courage to say to the person) 

 Needless to say when I heard shortly thereafter that Fox had bought the rights to turn the novel into a movie, I was a bit apprhensive, fearing they'd turn it into a generic teen comedy along the forgettable lines of 'John Tucker Must Die' or 90% of the teen comedies made for this current generation of teens.   I'd heard that Hayden Panettiere of tv's Heroes had gotten the titular role, and while she's certainly attractive enough for the role, I didn't think that she had the acting chops to pull off the different facets of the character, and just didn't fit the image I'd had when I'd read the book.  

  But, I was still intrigued enough despite the all but horrible marketing of the film, which make it look like one of those forgettable movies I'd mentioned above, and the box office recipts for this weekend seem to show that most people are thinking the same thing.    But I'm here to say now that this movie is far better than most teen comedies made since American Pie.  




   Denis Cooverman (Paul Rust-Inglorious Basterds), has loved Beth Cooper his whole high school life, and has never had the courage to say even hello to her.  Yet, during his graduation speech, he takes his friend Rich's (Jack Carpenter- Sydney White) and uses the speech as his platform to confess his true feelings, as well as a few other things he'd had on his chest.  Afterwards, in his first real conversation with Beth he invites her to a party at his house, which she and her two friends Cammy (Lauren London- ATL) and Treece (Lauren Storm-The Gameplan) show up at.  But things never go quite as planned, and soon after they're followded by Beth Cooper's psychotic soldier boyfriend Kevin (Shawn Roberts-Diary Of The Dead) and his two soldier friends/henchmen show up to beat the crap out of Denis, which then leads to the wildest night of Denis' life.


 Larry Doyle adapted the script from his novel, and it's a pretty much spot on translation, with only a few minor differences from the novel.  There are a few weak jokes and a few weak spots to the story, but overall his script is as funny and as touching as his novel was.  The script of course, being nothing without the great direction of Chris Columbus (Harry Potter And The Sorceror's Stone), whom we really don't see enough of directing movies these days.  

 Hayden Panettiere steps up her acting game in this role, playing a role more vulernable than we're normally used to seeing her in.  She was a good choice for the part.  Laurens London and Storm are decent as well, though the funnier lines go to Lauren Storm though as the ditzy Treece Kilmer).  Paul Rust took some time to grow on me throughout the course of the film, initally all I could think was that he looked and sounded like a young Gene Wilder, but his awkward peformance fit the character perfectly,  someone who was not the Hollywood nerd, but a true to life depiction of a high school geek,  a role in high school I know and remember all too well,  and it worked.  I'm looking forward to seeing how he does in Tarantino's WWII epic Inglorious Basterds when that hits theaters later this summer. 


  Jack London's role as Denis' movie quoting possibly gay best friend Rich is also a great performance.  I loved  his climactic towel fight scene towards the end of the movie, especially the training montage.  Shawn Robert's portrayal of Kevin also deserves some note, as it could have been, and for the most part was a one note character and performance, but the inclusion of the Clint Eastwood meets Christian Bale as Batman voice he used added another level of hilarity to the cliched bully/villain dialogue he spat out.  


  One last note on the acting, I loved the fact that they had Alan Ruck (Ferris Bueller's Day Off) in the movie as Denis' Dad, for one he did a great job, dissapointed he never got too much work after Ferris Bueller's.  Nobody really did when you think about it other than Matthew Broderick despite the strong cast that movie had, but that's a whole other topic of discussion.  I was sidetracked, what was I, oh yeah, it was a nice tip of the hat of sorts from the previous generation of teen comedies (well two generations past really) this new generation.  







  I'm sure we've all had that person in high school whom we loved so deeply and truly from afar, but never got either the courage or the chance to say anything about it.  Or we did, and reality set in very quickly..  I've had both type of experiences throughout high school, and college for that matter,  so I could relate to this movie in a way that I can't to a lot of other movies.  Granted I've never had the insanity that went along with the night the characters had, but the emotional truth of the movie is just spectacular, and it's something you don't see a lot of in this genre these days. 

Growing up in the golden age of teen comedies, made most of the time by John Hughes, and actually living through the silver age (Clueless, Can't Hardly Wait, American Pie), which all leads up to this current crop of mostly soulless wannabe chick flicks I'm aware of only in passing, you don't get a gem like this movie that often.   Some of the jokes do fall flat, and some of the scenes are as predctiable as they come, but the ones that work, really work.  

And it's really the human thing, the realness to most of the characters that makes the story work.  There are some level of cliche to some of the characters, but not to the overall story. 



In a time of big explosions and the like comes a hidden gem it seems of the teen comedy genre.  Don't let the bad marketing fool you, there is more than meets the eye to this movie.  I'd highly recommend reading  the book as well, as the book is overall better (as they usually are), but the movie is one of the better movies I've seen in a little while at least, especially in the teen comedy genre.  Go take a chance on this movie, and you won't be disappointed.  If you've ever felt awkward at any point, you'll find something to relate to in this hilarious comedy.  Till next time, be sure to keep it Reel.

1222 Words Published: 12 July 2009

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