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I Love You, Beth Cooper


Stars: Hayden Panettiere, Paul Rust, Jack T Carpenter, Shawn Roberts, Lauren Storm, Lauren London, Alan Ruck, Cynthia Stevenson

Director: Chris Columbus

This is a fairly awful teen comedy which had real possibilities until the assigned scriptwriter and casting directors got hold of it. Looking like the world's oldest high school graduate, Denis (Rust) makes a do-or-die valedictory speech telling it how it is to the school bully, the school bitch etc, but especially to head cheerleader Beth Cooper (Panettiere), to whom he professes undying love. Consequently, there are at least half a dozen people queuing up to kill him afterwards.

Escaping to his home after inviting an incredulous Beth to his farewell party, Denis and his not-really-gay buddy Rich (Carpenter) - whom Denis has outed in his inflammatory speech - are amazed to see Beth and two gal pals (Storm, London) turn up as their only guests - for a laugh. Unfortunately she's hotly pursued by her musclebound navy-jock boyfriend (Roberts), who proceeds to wreck Denis's home and Denis as well.

Our hapless hero escapes by jumping from the first storey and landing on his face, then getting heftily knocked down by a car (sorry, he'd be in hospital). The night gets worse by the hour but - surprise, surprise - Beth and Denis eventually connect.

This whole enterprise needed to be recast and thoroughly overhauled - Rust is 28 and looks every year of it - though Panettiere shows signs of talent when given the chance. Despite a few quirkily funny moments - 'My dad,' says Rich, 'used to give me a beer, but that was to get me to take a nap'; one of the girls offers Denis two Tampax to stop a nosebleed - inferior writing (by Larry Doyle from his own novel!) and clunky dialogue kill this off long before bungling the emotive possibilities of an overdue ending.

David Quinlan

USA 2009. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox (Fox Atomic). Colour by deluxe.
102 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 18 Aug 2009