Movies

Hopeless Adaptations, or: 'Beth Cooper' Was Always Doomed

Paul Rust and Hayden Panettiere in I Love You, Beth Cooper

I Love You, Beth Cooper: This is a project that was always doomed not to go well. Twentieth Century Fox hide caption

itoggle caption Twentieth Century Fox

If you're following the reviews of movies coming out this weekend, you know that critics have been not only unkind but positively brutal to I Love You, Beth Cooper, a comedy about a nerd who proclaims his love for a popular beauty during his valedictory address.

I went in really rooting for the movie, because the book on which it's based is delightful and charming, and its author, Larry Doyle, wrote the screenplay. It didn't seem like a looming disaster, though if I'd remembered it was to be directed by Chris Columbus (who came up in these pages a week ago), I'd have been more skeptical.

But now, looking back, I understand that it's an unadaptable book.

What makes a book unadaptable, after the jump...

That doesn't mean they didn't also do it wrong. Paul Rust, playing Denis the nerd, is not odd enough to be the Denis of the book. He's a complete cliché, he's every nerd, in every movie, ever. Hayden Panettiere does her best with Beth Cooper herself, but what makes the book work is how interesting and unexpected Beth is, and again, it's just not happening. In the movie, she comes off as a pretty cheerleader with flashes of personality that are grafted on.

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