The nerd and the cheerleader.
I had a crush on a girl in highschool that I never came out and confessed my affection for. Like Denis in I Love you, Beth Cooper, I admired her from a distance, and later became "just" friends. Although in real life, "just" friends is where most infatuations end, this is a movie and thus fantasy is allowed to roam free, but not so far that I could not relate to it.
During his graduation valedictorian speech, Denis confesses out loud to a packed auditorium that, "Ilove you Beth Cooper." Beth is a popular cheerleader and Denis is a nerd. He also elaborates that many students likely have secrets and all should feel free to share them. He singles out a few students in particular, including that his best friend should come out of the closet because it is okay with him that he is gay.
That night, he and his best, "I am not gay." friend, end up having the time of their high school life cruising around with Beth and her two best friends. They drink beer, get into fights and spend lots of time running from Beth's muscular built, military boyfriend and his two stooges. More importantly, Denis learns that Beth is not actually the girl he dreamed she was.
This movie could have easily become very sappy and had Beth suddenly fall for Denis and end the night with them having sex. However, this movie takes a higher road. Denis discovers that Beth is not the perfect girl, and is all too humanly flawed. In one revealing scene Beth confides in Denis that she all to well knows that the best part of her life may already be over. In high school she was all that. Now, she is heading off to a junior college and an uncertain future, while Denis is Ivy League bound.
The best thing about the plot is that by the end of the movie Denis is still in love with Beth, but he is now in love with the real Beth and not the imagined one. This movie really tries to be truthful with the characters. Beth confesses honestly why she was dating the muscular jerk. Unfortunately, it does not stay consistent the entire film. The scene with his "I am not gay." friend having a three way seems like it belongs in another movie. One not trying so hard to have a heart.
My fifteen year old son normally likes action movies and comedies. I was surprised at first that he said he enjoyed I Love you, Beth Cooper. Like me, my son is shy, and perhaps he related to Denis and his dilemma. Poor kid!
I am sorry, but my god that is one fucking big nose.
Okay, it's not nice to say, but the one thing that stood out to me about this movie above all else, was Paul Rust's nose. It's so huge! I'm not kidding, I mean, if it rained during production the rest of the cast could stay dry just by standing underneath it. I don't know how Hayden Panettiere was able to get around the nose to kiss him. And how was every other actor in the movie able to do their scenes without staring at it? Every scene Rust was in, my eyes were drawn to his nose like a magnet. I'm not proud of it, but I couldn't not mention the nose, since it will stay with me longer than anything else about this fairly bland teen-comedy.
The shy nerdy high-schooler having a crush on the really hot girl is an old plot that has been done so many times, that to make it work you really need to make something different or special to make it stand out. This one is fairly by the numbers. Sure, like you mention Eric, Beth Cooper is shown to be human instead of just the perfect girl, but that's been done before and in better movies.
I disagree about the 3-way scene feeling like it belonged in a different movie. From your review Eric, I was expecting it to be either explicit or really funny, but it's neither. Sure, it's not very plausible, but it's not out of line with the rest of the film.
You seem to have favored the scenes with heart Eric, but I wanted more comedy. I never cared that much about either Beth or Denis. Hayden in particular doesn't play Beth very well. She's supposed to be a wild party girl/slut, but she comes across more like the nice girl next door. Her big slutty moment is when she kisses the convenience store clerk to convince him to sell her beer, but the kiss isn't even shown on screen. She seems so nice that when she drops her towel in front of Denis later in the film, it seems completely out of character.
There are far too many better teen movies out there to waste much time on this one. You should try and sniff them out. I'm sure Paul Rust would be good at that.
Photos © Copyright Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation (2009)