I Love You, Beth Cooper (UK - DVD R2)
Our Marcus doesn't love Beth Cooper but he'll got along for the ride anyway...
Denis Cooverman (Paul Rust) sits quietly at his high school graduation with the knowledge that this may be his last chance to say something that’s remained unsaid since the very first time he met the girl of his dreams. Taking his chance, he takes to the microphone and in a final act of desperation confesses in front of the entire school (and parents), I love you Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere)!
I’m not sure why uber successful writer/producer/director Chris Columbus decided to take a stab at directing this utterly conventional teen romantic comedy. He didn’t decide to mix it up, he didn’t bring anything new to the table, and seemingly he wasn’t aiming to make an impact with it, but here it is anyway.
I Love You Beth Cooper has every item on the teen comedy checklist and in exactly the order you’d expect. Nerdy boy and his friend—check. Hot popular girl, main nerdy boy wouldn’t have a chance with—check . Jock douchbag boyfriend of hot girl not happy with nerdy boy’s intentions, despite cheating on hot girl anyway—check. Oh, and finally, circumstances bring nerdy boy and hot girl together and the two form and unlikely connection where they can truly be honest with one another. This stuff is hardly rocket science, but surely there are only so many times this same old story can play out?
I couldn’t care less about Hayden Panettiere, having zero affection for Heroes or any of her other work, and while this isn’t an unlikely first step into the wide, wide world of big screen movies after being in a hit TV show, she hardly provides a shining example of how to do it right (see Elisha Cuthbert in The Girl Next Door for a good example). She plays it straight down the line from mean girl to misunderstood girl and other than looking bizarre driving a car (seriously straight arms at 10 and 2 and big ol’ turns to go around corners just looks totally weird with her behind the wheel for some reason) she does nothing to offend, enthral or enjoy (though I’m sure her bigger fans will dig her in daisy dukes and a vest top).
Same can be said for Paul Rust, who fits the bill for nerdy looking guy well but doesn’t really do much to inspire you to fight his cause. For me, his best friend Rich (Jack Carpenter) has a far more enjoyable arc from movie geek/presumed gay sidekick to the man filling in Beth Cooper’s girlfriends' sandwich, but even this isn’t enough to consider the movie a success.
Okay, so after all that negativity and general disconnection with the story, I have to admit, this half assed affair still had its highlights. I really enjoyed seeing Denis see through the pedestal view of the Beth Cooper fantasy he had in his head and I liked seeing how these two met on common ground. I may be too cynical with the movie generally, but I still enjoyed the freedom of this group of kids out on the open road getting to know each other and even though I couldn’t really care less about the ins and outs of how it all ended up, there was still that tiny element in me that smiled at the happy ending.
Other than some fairly good bold colours, mainly the blue graduation gowns and Hayden’s red dress, everything here is pretty bland wrapped in a warm glow. The movie is fairly well lit and with a director like Chris Columbus, you can see he’s not cutting corners but nothing about the transfer pops. All the sets feel fake with lighting creating an almost sitcom mood as opposed to a movie reality and as I’ve mentioned in other reviews lately, the chasm between standard definition and high definition is ever widening and DVD is looking more and more outdated.
Generally, the disc looks okay, despite the softness of the image but I’m finding it increasingly hard to watch DVDs without seeing all of their limitations and constantly knowing how much better the movie would look on Blu-ray and judging by the hints here, I'm pretty sure it would.
With a slightly above average use of the surrounds, I Love You Beth Cooper manages to make use of atmospherics where a lot of other teen comedies don’t bother. Straight away the mutterings and then clapping hands of the graduation audience have a noticeable presence in the track rather than just being dumped in the rears. Same can be said for the music in the party scenes and in Beth’s car.
Outside of those highlights, it’s just the dialogue and it sits clearly in the centres doing all that’s required. There’s a few moments of noticeable bass from the track but for the most part the audio just goes through the motions and has nothing to exciting to handle.
There’s an alternative ending (06:59), that doesn’t offer too much of an alternative and four deleted scenes (07:35) and that’s all. It would have been nice to have Columbus’s input somewhere, just to see if there were any personal reasons for taking on the movie, but that ain't here.
This really is about as typical as a teen romantic comedy comes, with hardly any deviation from the norm and even a sense it was cleaned up a bit for a lower rating (is it me or did they replace ‘cock’ with ‘face’, when Beth explained what she’d ‘sucked’ for the man behind the counter?) It has its moments but none are strong enough to make this more than a forgettable teen outing with a TV star in the lead role.
The disc is less than bog standard with a cover that reeks of bargain bin (even if I can see what they were going for with the ‘Nuts’ design). So all in all, unless you have a thing for Hayden Panettiere, which I know some of you do, you might just want to wait for it to get aired on late night on TV.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 8th February 2010
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, English Audio Description
Subtitles: English HOH, Danish, Finish, Norwegian, Swedish
Extras: Alternative Ending, Deleted Scenes
Easter Egg: No
Director: Chris Columbus
Cast: Hayden Panettiere, Paul Rust, Jack Carpenter, Alan Ruck
Genre: Comedy, Drama and Romance
Length: 97 minutes
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