Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER: Good Cast, Bad Script

I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER (romantic comedy)
Cast: Hayden Panettiere, Paul Rust, Jack Carpenter, Lauren London, Andrea Savage, Samm Levine, Alan Ruck, Lauren Storm and Cynthia Stevenson
Director: Chris Columbus
Time: 102 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? "Save the cheerleader, (you) save the world." This is the famous line from TV's Heroes in which Hayden Panettiere plays the cheerleader Claire Bennett. In I Love You Beth Cooper, she again plays a cheerleader but this time around, it is her cheerleader who has the task of saving the movie.

Well, it was a good try but the script is too far gone even for an experienced young star like Panettiere.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? It's graduation day for the senior class of Buffalo Grove High School. In his speech, valedictorian Denis Cooverman (Paul Rust) not only professes his love for head cheerleader, Beth Cooper (Panettiere) but also takes the opportunity to insult her boyfriend Kevin (Shawn Roberts). The result: Beth starts to notice Denis and even agrees to go to his 'party' while Kevin just wants to kill him.

The rest of the movie is about how Denis and his bet buddy Rich (Jack T. Carpenter) meet and 'team up' with Beth and her two best friends, Cammy (Lauren London) and Treece (Lauren Storm) and how they try to avoid Kevin when he launches an attack on Denis' house. Oh yes, their misadventures for the night include breaking into the school for some fun in the showers, trying their hand at cow-tipping, gatecrashing the most popular party in town, and spending time in a cabin in the woods. Of course, Beth and Denis also discover things about their feelings for each other.

HITS & MISSES: This one seems like it is trying to be an updated version of American Graffiti but director Chris Columbus squanders much of its footage on over-the-top gags and teenage pranks and brawls instead of developing the characters and relationships. When he finally gets to the 'point' almost the end of the movie, it is a case of too little too late as we have lost patience.

Indeed, the movie seems to be suffering from schizophrenia - trying to be kosher enough for the PG-13 rating and yet testing the limits with teasing nudity and sex gags. It ends up being another graduation night romp flick.

Panettiere, however, manages to flesh out a personality from a lame script. Her Beth Cooper is the image of the hot girl at school that every boy dreams about; the reckless one who tests the boundaries; but a very uncertain and scared girl underneath. Rust too is solid as the geek, and Carpenter gets some laughs as the movie quotes-expert. Now, if only the script is up to standard...

THE LOWDOWN: Hayden is cool, the movie is not.


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