I Love You, Beth Cooper
WHAT IT'S ABOUT?
At his high school's commencement ceremony, socially awkward class valedictorian Denis Cooverman uses his graduation speech to declare his love for hottie head cheerleader Beth Cooper, a girl with whom he's never actually had a conversation. When Beth unexpectedly shows up at his graduation party followed shortly by her sadistic, coked-out Army cadet boyfriend -- Denis is swept up in a series of escapades he won't soon forget. That is, if he makes it through the night alive.
WHO'S IN IT?
Hayden Panettiere, star of NBC's Heroes, goes bravely against type to play you guessed it a cheerleader. In the role of her geeky onscreen counterpart is relative newcomer Paul Rust.
Not much, unfortunately. Teen comedies in the post-Superbad era even the PG-13 ones can't survive on merely playing to tired high-school cinematic stereotypes, which I Love You, Beth Cooper does in spades. Panettiere is appealing as a bright-eyed cheerleader whose perky exterior hides a bad-girl streak, but she doesn't quite project that unattainable quality the role seems to call for. She's more like the superhot girl-next-door who you think is attainable but probably isn't. Rust, meanwhile, attempts to compensate for the flat material he's given by overplaying virtually every joke to the point at which you'll actually root for his antagonists to pummel him without mercy.
With its promising opening scene, Beth Cooper shows the potential to be something sly and clever -- a high-school comedy in the vein of Alexander Payne's Election but instead develops disappointingly into a bland, turgid knock-off of an '80s John Hughes flick.
The opening valedictorian speech, in which Denis cooks his own goose by singling out various dysfunctional classmates including a bully, an anorexic and his closeted best friend for public acknowledgment, is achingly funny.
A saucy shower scene later in the film, in which a side view of Panettiere's naked breast is briefly revealed, should at least keep the boys around until the third act. Maybe.