I Love You, Beth Cooper

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Posted July 9, 2009 in Film

“This teenager coming-of-age thing—it’s a relatively new construct,” says scrawny valedictorian Dennis Cooverman (Paul Rust). True, but teenager coming-of-age flicks already have a template as old as Methuselah. Director Chris Columbus’ graduation night of horror comedy doesn’t add much new to the genre. There’s cheerleaders and dorks and ROTC boyfriends and booze. But where other high school flicks pretend, at least for form’s sake, that these are the best times of your life, Larry Doyle wrote his script with bile, not ink. Dennis’ geek is squeamish and frustrating. With a fast-track med school on his horizon, he’s on to brighter things—well, at least, technically, as we’re sure he’ll always be socially and romantically autistic. Other flicks would make his dream girl Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere) an oasis of popularity and beauty, but she’s so callow that she dates thugs and makes out with Quik-E-Mart clerks for beer. We’re aware that in five years, she’ll be either stripping or dead. (And when she admits she knows it too, we’re bummed that we can’t even lord it over her.) This feels less like a comedy than a therapy session from someone still hung up on teenage grievances. It’s all disgust and casual cruelty, with girls flirting with dudes who they described as “date-rapey” and wishing brain damage on their enemies. Even when Beth’s best friends Cammy (Lauren London) and Treece (Lauren Storm) have a threesome with Dennis’ pal Rich (Jack Carpenter), all parties end up disappointed. If watching this makes you long to be young again, you probably grew up in an Algerian prison.

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