If someone is given the arduous task of picking the best joke in I Love You Beth Cooper, they couldn’t. Nothing here even remotely constitutes a gag. In a life or death situation though, its height of cinematic laughter comes as Denis (Paul Rust) is using a lightsaber to fend off Beth Cooper’s (Hayden Panettiere) hulking military boyfriend.
Denis’s potentially gay friend has taken refuge in the closet. As Denis passes by the door, he remarks, “Come out of the closet!” That is it, the highlight of this unbearable collection of skits, each which uses the same failed gags repeatedly. Apparently, the audience was supposed to find them funny the first time.
Beth Cooper can’t drive. Cue a bunch of scenes where the recent high school grads are forced into the car so she can careen down city streets. Denis wears Spider-man underwear. Roll footage of Denis being forced to show them in public multiple times. Rich (Jack Carpenter) might be gay. Let’s film a bunch of awkward scenes where the sole purpose is to force him to admit it.
Every scene in Beth Cooper is terribly disconnected from the rest of the film. One could blame director Chris Columbus for not removing the excess, such as an ill-advised cow tipping scene that literally goes nowhere (what happened to the stampede exactly?), but cutting those scenes means removing the majority of the film.
There is no structure to take note of here. Scenes exist to shame Denis, get him in the car with Cooper, and then drive to the next point of embarrassment. An attempt to make it all work in the end seems to be taking a note from Superbad’s book, and maybe that would have worked. Unfortunately, these characters are boring clichés, and it is impossible to care about where they go from here.
Initial impressions of this AVC encode for Beth Cooper are as follows:
Why is everyone orange?
The other colors are vibrant.
What is with the black crush?
Much of the early half of Beth Cooper stays that way. Bold primaries, including the graduation gowns and the bright school colors, offer fantastic saturation. While depth seems apparent, shadow delineation is typically poor. What fine facial details exist are washed out by the eye-irritating orange skin tones, which cause faces to appear unnaturally smooth. Given the level of generally excellent sharpness, this should not be the case.
Eventually, this effort comes around. By the end of the film as Beth and Denis are sitting on a pier watching a sunset, this disc suddenly delivers a reference quality effort. Every stitch on their clothing, every pore, and every hair is perfectly delineated. The gorgeous photography and natural lighting does not hurt either. Scenes leading up to this show improvement as well, enough to completely change those initial impressions.
The problem is this encode has to work to reach that point, as if the video quality has its own narrative flow. Ironically, it is more interesting to watch the video go through its phases than the story, which of course is not saying much.
A somewhat flat but loud DTS-HD effort has few notable moments. The meaningless stampede sequence delivers ample bass, as do a few soundtrack cues throughout the film.
Surrounds are typically dead for much of the movie, save for a few moments of note. The graduation sequence fills the soundfield with cheers and clapping. Beth’s driving test captures the cones she runs into nicely in all channels. When she crashes through a house in an SUV, the various pieces of shattering debris are captured wonderfully. A few “action” sequences such as the brawl in Denis’s house, capture some minimal front-to-back movement.
Dialogue is clean, and audible. Rarely does this track offer a moment where it is strained to present audio detail.
Four deleted scenes and a bizarre alternate ending run about 14-minutes combined, kicking off a bland set of extras. I Love You Larry Dole lets the writer tell you what was on his mind when he wrote it, while We’re All Different but That’s a Good Thing includes interviews with the cast as they discuss their characters.
Paul Rust sings a small jingle about peanut butter (?), and two Fox Movie Channel interviews offer little of interest. Trailers remain.