July 14, 2009

Movie Review: I Love You, Beth Cooper

iloveyoubethcooper1_largeFor some reason this movie reminds me of the 2004 flick The Girl Next Door. They both have similar premises steeped in the art of the male fantasy. The earlier film sees a loser guy falling for the girl next door, who turns out to be a porn star, much comedy and hi jinx ensue. The newer film centers on a loser guy professing his love for the popular head cheerleader and discovering she may return his affections. Neither film is all that great, but they are both entertaining for what they are, ridiculous escapes from reality that have absolutely no basis in reality.

Based on a novel by Larry Doyle, who also wrote the screenplay, I Love You, Beth Cooper tells the story of a nerdy valedictorian who uses his commencement speech to profess his love for the head cheerleader, the titular Beth Cooper. It is something he was sort of goaded into doing in order to leave some sort of mark on his high school years, something that cannot be undone and cannot be taken away. Along the way he also has a few things to say about other members of his graduating class. It is the sort of speech that you dream about, especially if you are a cad carrying member of the downtrodden and forgotten of the high school in crowd. Of course, even in dreams there are repercussions, as comedic and non-life threatening as they may be, they are still there. This movie chronicles what happens after the proverbial cat is out of the bag.

iloveyoubethcooperpic1The tale begins with Denis Cooverman (Paul Rust) preparing to deliver his speech. He walks to the podium and begins to nervously recite what he had prepared, but then, in a flash of inspiration he lets loose with the words that will forever change his life; well, at least for the next day or two. He has no idea where this will lead and it does not appear that he even gave it any thought.

Anyway, after the ceremony is over, the nervous fellow goes home and prepares for his graduation party. The expected crowd is zero, besides Denis and his possibly gay best friend, Rick Munsch (Jack Carpenter). Before leaving for the evening, his father gives him the "talk." The funniest thing about this is that his father is played by Alan Ruck, who would have likely had the Denis role had this been made in the wake of his Ferris Bueller's Day Off performance.

Well, Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere) and her ever-present cheerleader friends show up for Denis's party only to have Beth's muscle-bound Army boyfriend how up with some bad thoughts on his mind. The chase is now on as the boyfriend wants to separate Denis's head from his body and Beth just wants to be rid of him. This is how the night goes.

iloveyoubethcooperpic6Honestly, there really is not much to say about the story. It begins with that dream setup of professing undying love, proceeds to the chase, moves onto the touching tender moments, then comes to its inevitable conclusion. There really isn't much more than that; however, I actually enjoyed it and have no problems giving it a bit of a recommendation to to those who enjoy this genre. It is the kind of movie whose trailers will tell you if you have any chance of liking it. It has a definite audience and it is not everyone.

Why does this movie work? It is all in the performances. Paul Rust and Hayden Panettiere have decent enough chemistry, plus they almost seem born to play these roles. Rust may look a bit old for the character, but is close enough to pull it off, plus he has that nerdy character down pat. He has some great reactions and seems sincere in the quieter moments when his character realizes that this Beth is not the one he dreamed about. As for Hayden, she carries oer the popular cheerleader from the first season of Heroes and tweaks it just a little. She is the popular girl here, but the further in we go, we begin to see the seems in her popular armor with a little insecure girl peeking through. This brings us back to the fantasy of the film, where the nerd dreams of getting the girl and seeing her for who she is and not the persona.

Bottomline. In the end, it is a trifle of a movie that will likely be forgotten in pretty short order. Still, I found myself enjoying it. I am sure I will be off of it and onto something else shortly, but for a piece of momentary escapism, it delivers.

Mildly Recommended.


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