I Love You, Beth Cooper

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I Love You Beth Cooper is a movie that's nearly impossible to like. Listlessly directed by hack Chris Columbus, Beth Cooper is so cartoonish, loud, sloppy and juvenile that its attempts at sincerity veer toward parody. Sometimes the slapstick high-school-graduation-night bedlam will pause for one kid to pour his guts out about how hard it is to be a brain, a jock, a freak or a beauty queen — but they may as well be speaking Klingon, since Cooper isn't about real teens but about paper dolls patched together from other bad movie teens.

Charisma-free, thirtyish actor Paul Rust plays nerd Denis Cooverman, a career nebbish whose valedictory address calls out the popular clique and the bullies, and then declares his undying love for the golden-headed cheerleader Beth Cooper, played flatly by chipmunk-cheeked Hayden Panettiere. 

This of course puts a huge target on his back, but at least he has best-pal Rich (Jack T. Carpenter), a wisecracking flunky from the Jon Cryer school of wacky sidekicks, cursed with the annoying habit of constantly name-checking better movies and directors. Bemused by Cooverman's affection, Cooper and her slut crew crash his lame party and a wild, wacked night of pranks, nudity, life lessons and property damage ensues. Joy. 

Columbus mentor John Hughes had a knack for believable adolescents in '80s classics Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink, when Columbus had cult faves The Goonies and Adventures is Babysitting. But that was then, and decades of directing such pap as Mrs. Doubtfire and Bicentennial Man have worn away whatever edge Columbus had. The gags are as tepid as the violence is unbefitting, and the leads have zero chemistry. The most memorable moment is the nanosecond of Panettiere side boob, which will surely melt pieces of the Internets.

Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com.

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