Starring: Hayden Panettiere, Paul Rust, Jack Carpenter, Shawn Roberts, Lauren Storm
Director: Chris Columbus
Writer(s): Larry Doyle
Cinematography: Phil Abraham
Original Score: Christophe Beck
Running Time: 102 Mins.
Often you enter the cinema with high hopes, usually these are enforced by a mass marketing machine and some very promising trailers, on this basis very few films live up to their “pre-hype”. Upon approaching I Love You, Beth Cooper I felt a different kind of high hope, knowing very little about said film other than it starred the charming, and it must be said not unattractive Hayden Panettiere, it also features a geeky newcomer (normally a good, and most importantly, funny thing thing) and is plotted as such, geeky guy (Paul Rust) declares the title of the film at his High School graduation, and what follows is the events of popular girl and geeky guy plus friends over the course of one night getting into parties, fights and the usual teen mis-adventures.
On the basis of both this plot, the promising actors and the presence of Chris Columbus as director, who is the writer behind such gems as Gremlins and Home Alone, you would expect something at least mildly enjoyable and at least capable of being consistently sniggersome if not laugh out loud funny, maybe in fact somehting along the lines of the brilliant The Girl Next Door which had a largely similar plot and cast types and was marketed in much the same way by Fox, alas prepare for your all hopes of something that ticks any of these boxes to be dashed for I Love You, Beth Cooper is quite possible one of the poorest and laziest films of the year.
It is easy to see where the problems start, the script, by Larry Doyle is inept in every way, failing to create, at best, fully rounded characters and at worst funny situations, there was a time when stepping in a cowpat may have been funny, but unfortunately for all involved the film industry and (most) peoples imagination for humour have progressed, character arcs are drawn so broadly you have to wonder why certain characters were given the traits they are lumbered with in such a scattershot way. With an ongoing is he/isn’t he gay story for Rust’s best friend being at once insulting and confusing, you will literally be baffled as to what the point in his character was in the first place, which is a shame because it is in the the films first 15 minute’s as you hope it will hit second gear and become funny he is by far the best thing in it, but oh how wrong I was how wrong I was to expect such developments.
Sadly what should have been the trump card is quite the opposite and the more Panettiere appears the worse the film becomes, if Beth Cooper herself was at least 1 dimensional it would be a start, as it is she simply seems to exist to look pretty, which admittedly she does with quite some aplomb. This is not going to help further Panettiere’s film career though, neither will it further Rust’s which should begin and end here…I hope, usually in a film of this genre you root for the geek, for he is normally the most likeable presence. Here he is downright boring, and worse than that quite possibly one of the most irritating performers in quite some time, when the size of a characters nose becomes your focal point in a film you know your in trouble!
But, yes, characters can be annoying yet funny, Stifler in American Pie being the prime example, however having your annoying character be the central one is a big no no, they need at least some redeeming features…and Rust has none, and at the point where he sticks tampons up his nose I had given up hope completely, on he, Beth Cooper and Chris Columbus who may have reached the point of no return in his redemption!
When the best you can say about a film is that its star is as attractive as you thought there is a serious problem, lacking both laughs and any other element that would have made it a success I Love You, Beth Cooper deserves to be far from loved.