"But today, I would also like to look back...look back on our four years here at Buffalo Glenn High School. Looking back not with anger but with no regrets...no regrets for what we wanted to do but did not...what we wanted to say but could not. And so I say here today the one thing I wish I had said...the one thing I know I will regret if I never say. I love you, Beth Cooper. I have loved you, Beth Cooper, ever since I first sat behind you in Miss Rosa's math class in the 7th grade. I loved you when I sat behind you in Señor Weenyour's Spanish and Miss Calamet-Hobie's Literature of the Oppressed. I loved you from behind...in Biology, History, and yes!...Practical Science. I loved you, but I never told you because we never spoke...but now I say it with no regrets. I...love you, Beth Cooper."
Yeah, so that's a valedictorian speech. See, that wheezing, hyperdweeby Denis Cooverman (Paul Rust) is out the door to Stanford, and this is his one last shot to say something to the head cheerleader he's been quietly fawning over for six years straight (Hayden Panettiere). Oh, and he doesn't stop there either, calling out his classmates for bulemia, daddy-diddling, and double-digit-IQ-underage-skirt-chasing. Beth's ROTC-type boyfriend Kevin (Shawn Roberts) pummels him after the ceremony, natch, but Denis still manages to lob out to his creeped-out crush an invitation to his graduation party. She and her off-the-shelf entourage (y'know, The Ethnic One and The Ditzy, Slutty One) show up as a laugh, and it kinda goes without saying that they're the only ones to make it. I mean, Munsch (Jack Carpenter) -- Denis' best-slash-only friend -- is there too, but...c'mon, he doesn't count. Anyway, Denis keeps the parade of humiliation marching along, even managing to slice open his hand and give himself a black eye when opening a bottle of cheap champagne Mom and Pop left behind for him. Yeah, that bottle of the bubbly from Food Lion is a pretty mighty nemesis, but turns out...? That's nothing compared to Kevin and his cronies who plow their way into Denis' house for Revenge Mark II. Beth and her pals manage to scuttle the two of 'em out of harm's way, though, and the rest of the movie's a neverending, laughless onslaught of house parties, hijinks in the woods, finger-wagglingly-crazy driving, a few more beatdowns,
Wow! So where to start with the long, long list of reasons why I can't stand Beth Cooper...? Might as well kick it off with a nod to Paul Rust, a 28-year-old playing a kid with high school still looming large in the rear view mirror. Denis is pretty unlikeable in the first place, one of those grating guys who's committed a bunch of meaningless facts to memory -- he's just waiting for someone to steer the conversation the right way so he can tell you the melting point of cadmium or something -- but isn't clever enough to actually do anything with all that. Rust's approach to comedy is half obnoxiously over-the-top, shamelessly-mugging slapstick and half wheezing, screeching, and squealing. This is a guy who tries to use a plastic light saber as a legitimate weapon. It's all just...shrill, tedious, and painful. I mean, the entire movie hinges on wanting to see some John Hughes-flavored sparks between Denis and Beth, but I didn't want to see them together and really didn't want to see him at all, ever. On the upside, I Love You, Beth Cooper does heap on a bunch of scenes with Denis getting pummeled, being plowed into by a Yaris or something, and being knocked off a roof and into a rose bed, so there's that.
Hayden Panettiere is
'Course, swapping out the cast wouldn't help all that much. It desperately wants to play that balancing act between coming-of-age flick and comedy, like Dazed and Confused or something out of the John Hughes playbook. It's just that a real coming-of-age story demands some kind of insight into what's bobbing around in its character's heads. I Love You, Beth Cooper doesn't wanna slog around with that when it can just reach into its gunny sack and pull out some more third-rate sitcom schtick...y'know, cow poop, gay panic, re-enacting the climax of The Adventures of Robin Hood with wet towels...that sorta thing. Even something that ought to score a cheap laugh like flashbacks to junior high flail around in a nine-foot-deep tank of flop sweat. There are half-hearted stabs at characterization, like Beth talking about a long-since-dead brother she barely remembers, but they almost seem tacked on as an afterthought. It's a mix of half-hearted satire, room temperature comedy, and that rancid scent of desperation that it really, really wants you to like it. Munsch, Cammy, and Treece don't add much of anything -- hell, I couldn't even remember the girls' names without hitting up the IMDb -- and kind of just seem to be hanging around because every nerdy guy in a high school movie has a best friend, and every popular chick has an entourage, right? They're like a third, fourth, and fifth nipple, and not in a good way either. There's just...nothing sincere about I Love You, Beth Cooper. Not only is it cloying and unimaginative, but it's overly calculated in the wrong direction...soul-crushingly devoid of the funny. And Chris Columbus directed this? Really? Anyway, the smart money says you see where I'm going with all this: Skip It.
I Love You, Beth Cooper looks like...well, exactly how you'd expect a glossy studio comedy fresh out of theaters to turn out on Blu-ray. Crisp, detailed, and sporting punchy colors as well as a warm, filmic texture, I Love You, Beth Cooper turned out great in high-def, and I don't really have much more to ramble on about than that.
The laundry list of boring technical stuff: AVC encode, BD-50, faint letterboxing to preserve its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. There you go.
I Love You, Beth Cooper veers away from the standard issue comedy mix...y'know, the way most of these movies anchor pretty much everything front and center, slosh a little ambience off in the surrounds, and only dust off the subwoofer when it's time to blast some Hot Topic-flavored mall-punk. Nope, this 24-bit, six-channel DTS-HD Master Audio track is actually pretty aggressive. After all, we're talking about a movie with its lead character getting whacked by a sedan, a Hummer plowing through the side of a ritzy, palatial estate, and a, uh, cow stampede. It might as well be an action flick what with the bobbing-dead-in-the-water sense of humor, and all of the fistfights and psychotic driving make for a spastic, hypercaffeinated sound design. The music also packs a wallop, from blaring '70s cock-rock down to the low-frequency assault of that booming booty bass. All of the dialogue's rendered cleanly and clearly, and it's never dialed down too low in the mix, although there are times when that would've been a good thing. I've gotta admit that I'm impressed, and this soundtrack definitely ranks more than a couple notches higher than average for a comedy on Blu-ray.
This Blu-ray disc also sports Dolby Digital 5.1 dubs in French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Subtitles are served up in English (SDH), Spanish, Portuguese, and Cantonese.
The Final Word
Ack. No. Skip It.
I Took More Screengrabs, So I Guess I Might As Well Use 'Em