Starring: Paul Rust, Hayden Panettiere, Jack Carpenter
Director: Chris Columbus
Running Time: 102 mins
I Love You, Beth Cooper is an American film about a high school nerd who confesses his love for the school’s most popular girl on graduation day. Following on from an embarrassing speech, they end up spending a wild night together as a last hurrah before college.
At first glance, I Love You, Beth Cooper looks like just any old teen romance movie. Nerd falls in love with the popular girl, they eventually get together. Simple and predictable. Except, there’s something a little more about this film that makes it a whole lot more likable, with fun action and some good humour, but most of all some really lovely emotional depth too.
Let’s start on the simpler side of things, with the most predictable and generic elements of the movie. I won’t say for a moment that I Love You, Beth Cooper is an innovative piece of filmmaking, but it’s just that the movie manages to do those most generic things better than many others.
So, there’s all the gross-out humour you’d expect from your typical teen movie, as well as a whole heap of late-night chaos. It’s not a masterpiece of sharp, intelligent comedy, but it’s certainly a whole lot of fun to watch.
One of the most common issues with films like this is that, as teenagers obsessed with the trivialities of high school life, the characters can be painfully annoying to follow over the course of an hour and a half.
In the case of I Love You, Beth Cooper, I can’t say that lead actor Paul Rust is the most likable (or convincing) teenager, but his love interest Hayden Panettiere strikes a really good balance between playing up the ‘popular girl’ stereotype and a real, genuine person.
So, with a less cartoonish love interest, the film manages to bring a degree of real-world emotion into the table, and you’re able to empathise with the main character’s love for Beth Cooper, because she seems like a genuinely likable person, rather than just another high school caricature.
And it’s that likability which brings the film its real strength. This isn’t a shrill, irritating teen comedy that’s more focused on gross-out humour and idiotic slapstick, but rather a genuinely likable and even often touching romantic comedy.
As a result, I was pleasantly surprised by I Love You, Beth Cooper. It’s not a completely brand-new way of telling a story about teen love, but it’s a thoroughly enjoyable way of doing it, complete with some really wonderful moments, good, fun-loving humour, and immense likability throughout. So, that’s why I’m giving the film a 7.3 overall.