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movie review – i love you, beth cooper

July 20, 2009


How many times have you wanted to say something and didn’t? Like tell someone you love them? What if it was the last night you might ever see them? I Love You, Beth Cooper begins with its nerd protagonist Dennis (Paul Rust) declaring his love for popular cheerleader Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere) – to whom he’s never spoken before –  in his valedictory speech at their high school graduation. In the process he also manages to call out her creepy, older, Army-guy boyfriend, who is apparently also something of a homicidal maniac. This sets off an evening-long chain of events in which Dennis and his best friend Rich, who may or may not be gay, are along for whirlwind ride with Beth and her two best friends as they flee from Beth’s boyfriend, score beer, jam out to Alice Cooper, nearly wreck Dennis’ parents’ car, crash a graduation party, sneak into their high school, and experiment with each other at a lakeside cabin.

Dennis (Rust) and Beth (Panettiere).

Dennis (Rust) and Beth (Panettiere).

All in all, it’s a pretty fun ride. Nothing you haven’t seen before, but it’s also not strictly a formulaic teen rom-com. It avoids some cliches and sticks pretty close to the book it’s based on. The real shining star is Jack Carpenter, who plays Dennis’ nerdy and possibly gay best friend Rich, who is the catalyst for many of the films laughs. (You may remember Carpenter’s geeky charms from the 2007 Amanda Bynes vehicle Sydney White, in which he played Lenny, the dork who was allergic to absolutely everything. That’s where I first got a crush on him!) Alan Ruck, who played Cameron in John Hughes’ seminal teen comedy Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, also graces the film with his charms; he plays Dennis dad. And he’s still sexy!

Rust, Lauren Storm, Panettiere, Carpenter, and Lauren London.

Rust, Lauren Storm, Panettiere, Carpenter, and Lauren London.

I didn’t love the film, but I liked it enough to get past its flaws (some slow parts, some tryng-too-hard elements) and embrace the good things. Overall, if you can just take Beth Cooper for what it is, a cast of likeable characters in wacky situations makes this comedy-fluff movie worth a night at the theater with your friends.


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