I Love You, Beth Cooper (review)

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Though he’s never so much as spoken to the poor girl before, nerd announces during his high-school valedictorian speech that he “loves” the “hottest” girl in school. In the real world, this would be called an act of passive-aggressive behavior by an antisocial creep, but in the world of adolescent romantic comedies, this is deemed a charming and daring act by a “nice guy” who’s been oppressed by the “hotness” of certain females into silent inaction… till now. This being a male fantasy — it’s based on a novel by Larry Doyle [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon U.K.], whom I presume is male — the “hot” girl (Hayden Panettiere: Shanghai Kiss) is charmed by the nerd (Paul Rust [Semi-Pro], who is, creepily, a decade too old for the role), and proceeds to give him the “night of his life,” an all-night postgraduation party that features a variety of life-threatening events for the nerd: he is slammed by the hot girl’s car at high speed, receives multiple violent beatings from the hot girl’s psychotic boyfriend, and more. At the end of the night — which is filled with “jokes” about victims of sexual abuse, homosexuality, and cute animals turned rabid, plus random cheerleading thrown in for distraction as needed — nerd discovers that even though he’s disappointed to discover that the hot girl is a reckless, whorish slut, he will deign to continue to bestow his love upon her, perhaps in the hopes of redeeming her. As if the content weren’t offensive enough, director Chris Columbus (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) appears to be under the impression that he has made a coming-of-age drama of deep sincerity and poignancy, for all the film’s shocking incompetence in actually getting the story onto the screen. It’s a case of, “Waiter, this soup is terrible… and the bowl it came in is ugly, too.”

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Michael
Michael
Fri, Jul 10, 2009 5:38pm

That plotline sounds more like a tragic drama where a boy falls for the idea of a girl, then utterly fails to see that it’s not the girl, it’s the idea, and finds himself enslaved to forever chasing the chance that he could somehow twist reality to match the idea, until he finally succumbs to a despairing illusion and winds up, I dunno, in a coma after running his car off the road and hitting a cactus, then dying. Then they clone him with a piece of his tongue.

Tim Burton can direct.

Accounting Ninja
Accounting Ninja
Fri, Jul 10, 2009 9:14pm

^^ Would totally pay to see that.

But seriously, wouldn’t it be cool for a movie to intelligently deconstruct that? About “nice guys” and their ideals of women not matching reality?

Michael
Michael
Fri, Jul 10, 2009 9:48pm

You’re a little “nice guy” obsessed, AN. ;) Falling in love with a preconceived notion of someone is a sign of immaturity, and hardly the sole domain of the “nice” (or guys, for that matter). Just because he’s a nerd doesn’t make him nice. (Harold Lauter from The Stand, anyone?)

…This post likely sounds more adversarial than intended. I’m just being pedantic. ;)

Fuggle
Fuggle
Sat, Jul 11, 2009 4:46am

When you say “nice guy,” what is it you mean?

Paul
Paul
Sat, Jul 11, 2009 8:30am

Maybe it would be more productive to talk about the character more particularly than men in general. I mean, I’ve never met a guy who would do something that would so obviously and publicly humiliate the woman he loved as give such a speech to their graduating class as a way of winning her love, or even heard of one except in movies or TV shows.

So while discussion of how women and men are protrayed in this movie is fair game, I don’t think we ought to pretend this movie has anything to do with real people.

MaSch
MaSch
Sat, Jul 11, 2009 4:47pm

Accounting Ninja: You mean something along the lines of “Great Expectations” (with another ending, possibly, but no adaptor ever bothered about keeping the original ending)?

Tonio Kruger
Sat, Jul 11, 2009 8:38pm

Though he’s never so much as spoken to the poor girl before, nerd announces during his high-school valedictorian speech that he “loves” the “hottest” girl in school.

In short, it’s a male version of Felicity–taken to the next level.

But seriously, wouldn’t it be cool for a movie to intelligently deconstruct that? About “nice guys” and their ideals of women not matching reality?

They already made such a movie.

It’s called Chasing Amy.

And I suspect it’s way better than this one.

Just because he’s a nerd doesn’t make him nice. (Harold Lauter from The Stand, anyone?)

I believe that’s AN’s point, Michael. After all, Harold Lauter would probably have described himself as a “nice guy” because he didn’t actually do anything aggressive toward his would-be girlfriend Fran Goldsmith. (Though he wasn’t above involuntarily creeping her out with actions she clearly wasn’t comfortable with.) Anyway, he definitely was not at heart a nice guy–though he pretended to be nice–and there were certain times within the novel in which Lauter knew quite well he was doing the wrong thing but chose to go ahead and do so anyway because he was more obsessed with getting back at Fran and her actual boyfriend Stu Redman than doing the right thing.

Muzz
Muzz
Mon, Jul 13, 2009 2:15am

I agree with Michael to a degree. It sounds like it ought to be the most hilariously black satire of highschool yet (think Election with some Something About Mary slapstick).
I wonder if that’s what it was before Columbus got a hold of it.