The first indication as to how wholly uninspiring I Love You, Beth Cooper is can be found right there on the film’s DVD cover.
Most new releases come with sleeves adorned with pull quotes from various published reviews. Usually these consist of excessive hyperbole praising the film to the hilt, or, at the very least, a quote taken out of context that could possibly, perhaps, in a way, suggest that the film might just be slightly passable fair.
However, the only extract to be found anywhere on Beth Cooper‘s cover – from Nuts Magazine, no less – reads: “Quirky high school comedy”. That doesn’t even register as criticism. That is merely a brief description of the film. If even Nuts Magazine is struggling to find anything even remotely approving of your film, you know you’re in trouble.
Adapted from the novel of the same name by the author himself, former The Simpsons writer Larry Doyle, Beth Cooper sees stereotypical nerd Denis Cooverman (Paul Rust) embarrass himself by declaring his love for the eponymous Ms Cooper (Hayden Pannetiere, Heroes‘ Claire Bennet) during his graduation speech. Denis, with the aid of his best friend Rich (Jack T. Carpenter), decides to invite Cooper and her friends to a party at his house, in a vain attempt to impress her. However, when, to his surprise, they do turn up, closely followed by Beth’s obnoxious and damned angry military boyfriend Kevin (Shawn Roberts), a night of alleged hilarity and predictable teen movie fare soon ensues.
Almost every effort the film makes to be even vaguely humorous falls completely flat, landing absolutely on the wrong side of gross-out. Any wit or charm is replaced by ugly and glaringly obvious ‘jokes’ involving phallic sword fights and blown-up condoms. It’s rather telling that Beth Cooper‘s most sophisticated attempt at humour involves shouting in a library (Ha ha!).
Not only is this completely unappealing in itself, it also makes the film’s frequent attempts to be sentimental and emotionally manipulative completely redundant. If your overall shtick is solely an endless array of ill-advised knob-and-cow-pat gags and base level slapstick, not to mention less than subtle misogyny, then any attempt to inject deep character development or emotional intelligence into your flagging script is just insulting. To reference a better film of this ilk, you can’t have your pie and have sex with.
Indeed, whether consciously or not, the film, in a similar manner to Rich’s incessant and irritating on-screen cinematic references, constantly mirrors similar yet, crucially, much smarter and more successful films – Mean Girls, Wayne’s World, American Pie, Dazed And Confused, Superbad… The list is practically endless. This only reveals how shallow and lacking in personality Beth Cooper really is.
You will find more enjoyment playing ‘guess which major teen comedy this scene is trying to crib!” than you would attempting to follow the film’s dull and derivative plot.
With Home Alone director Chris Columbus and aforementioned The Simpsons scribe Doyle at the helm, Beth Cooper should be much better than it actually is. It’s not just that it’s a terrible film, it’s a terrible film that is utterly forgettable. Not one character, scene or line stands out as particularly memorable; the entire movie simply washes over you in a wave of jaded indifference.
It’s more than fair to say I hate you, Beth Cooper…
The disc comes packaged with a handful of deleted scenes, none of which add anything of particular interest to the Beth Cooper experience. Also included is a self proclaimed “outrageous” alternate ending, which doesn’t seem particularly “outrageous” at all, merely consisting of a confrontation between Denis and Beth’s boyfriend.
This may not seem like much, but it’s far more than this film deserves.
The Film:The Disc:
I Love You, Beth Cooper is out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.