I Love You, Beth Cooper
By Sandie Angulo Chen,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Forgettable teen comedy has lots of sex and drinking.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Yes, the movie is saying that high school need not be the peak of a popular teenager's existence, but there are a lot of misleading messages as well. Denis calls the crazy night of party hopping, law breaking, and hooking up "best night" of his life and the only part of high school he'll remember. And there are very few consequences for any of the teens' behavior; in fact, Denis' dad practically congratulates him on his wild night. On the plus side, Denis does help Beth feel better about herself and her future.
Positive Role Models
Although Denis is surprisingly sweet and gentlemanly, Beth isn't a particularly positive role model for girls. Except for the fact that she seems to listen to Denis' advice, Beth thinks nothing of exploiting her looks to get alcohol, driving so recklessly that she commits a hit and run, "teasing" Denis by revealing her naked body to him, and otherwise reveling in her "most popular girl" status. Denis' parents also score pretty low on the role model scale -- they provide him with alcohol for his (unsupervised) graduation party, tell him where to find condoms, and seem more congratulatory than angry when he shows up after being gone all night without word. There's also a lot of stereotyping of the typical high school movie variety -- nerds, popular kids, jocks, etc.
Violence & Scariness
Denis is beaten up several times by Beth's pumped-up boyfriend and his equally buff pals. He ends up with visible, bleeding wounds and bruises. There are fist fights, jumps/falls out of windows, car crashes, and one humorous towel fight.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Several sexual situations and conversations, though only one actual "sex" scene ... which is a threesome. Two teen girls proposition a virginal boy and start kissing him; the next scene shows them all in bed together, with the sheets pulled up under their arms. Beth and her two friends also undress and shower in front of a guy, but you only see bare backs. Denis drops his pants and spends a scene or two in just his underwear. Conversations about erections, sexual orientation (one character may or not be gay), and misusing sexuality (Beth makes out with a clerk in order to buy beer). Plenty of innuendo and some additional kissing; at one point, Denis' head ends up in Beth's lap, and he sees her panties. Denis' dad tells him where to find his own stash of condoms and implicitly encourages Denis and Rich to have sex; later, Denis' parents are shown making out in a car -- when his dad's cell phone vibrates because a call is coming in, he proceeds to tuck it down his wife's skirt.
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Surprisingly frequent use of strong language for a PG-13 film, including one use of "f--k" and many of "s--t." Other words include "p---y," "a--hole," "bitch," "hell," "oh my God," "damn," "boners," "slut," "goddamn," "ass," etc.
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Products & Purchases
Mostly cars: Toyota Yaris and Hummer. Other brands shown/mentioned by name include Suzy Qs, Eggo waffles, Spider-Man underpants, and assorted other convenience store snacks/drinks.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Frequent underage drinking, including beer, hard liquor, and champagne (the latter provided by Denis' parents for his graduation party). Teens also purchase alcohol from a cashier who knows they're minors and drive cars after drinking (though it's never implied that they're completely drunk while driving). Occasional cigarette smoking; discussion of being drunk and what champagne "makes" one girl do (the implication is that it leads to sex). Discussion of cocaine use by Beth's older, angry boyfriend and his friends.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a review of the movie shown in theaters and not the unrated version with an alternate ending available on DVD.Parents also need to know that this deplorable teen comedy targets teens especially since it stars Heroes cheerleader Hayden Panettiere. But the movie is full of consequence-free underage drinking and teen sex. Teens drink beer, hard liquor, and champagne (the latter supplied by parents) and drive after doing so. Characters have a threesome (though nothing explicit is shown), there's a running conversation about one character's sexual orientation, and teen girls' naked backs are shown during a titillating locker room scene. Language is notably strong for a PG-13 movie, including "f--k" and many uses of "s--t." The main character also gets beaten up a lot, and his parents are iffy role models at best, providing the aforementioned alcohol and essentially encouraging him to have sex.
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I Love You, Beth Cooper
Based on 11 parent reviews
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Older kids (12 up) should be fine
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What's the Story?
Denis Cooverman (Paul Rust) is your typical geeky high school valedictorian -- except he decides to announce his unrequited love for titular head cheerleader Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere) during his graduation speech. Thinking it would be funny, Beth and her mean-girl BFFs pick up Denis and his pop-culture-obsessed best friend Rich (Jack Carpenter) for a wild and crazy graduation night, during which Denis realizes the actual Beth Cooper might not live up to his idealized expectations.
Is It Any Good?
While a few scenes are worthy of a couple of laughs, the only memorable aspect of the movie is the wink-wink fact that Denis' father is Alan Ruck, who once played Ferris Bueller's best friend. Watching Cameron -- he of the Ferrari-driving father -- will remind parents in the audience of their own screen touchstones, which were infinitely better.
Director Chris Columbus is no stranger to teen-friendly fodder. Long before he was the original Harry Potter auteur, he began his directing career with 1987's Adventures in Babysitting, a tween/teen classic. It's a shame that two decades later, he seems to have completely lost the mojo to portray teens as anything but ridiculous stereotypes. Denis is not a high-school Everyman like the freshmen in Dazed and Confused, the cool-but-eccentric seniors of Superbad, or even the brilliantly developed, funny-as-anything outcasts of John Hughes lore. He's a homely, formulaic nerd, and Beth, it seems, is headed to prison for DUI and vehicular manslaughter instead of community college.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about teenage sexuality. How is it portrayed here? Is that realistic? Why would Denis' dad encourage him to have sex? Parents, talk to your teens about your own family's values when it comes to sex.
What about the underage drinking? Is it as common as the movie suggests? What are the consequences of drinking in real life?
Are the movie's stereotypes funny? Are all cheerleaders mean and all valedictorians nerds? Can you think of teen movies that don't follow these "rules"? How does this movie compare to the classics in the teen genre?
- In theaters: July 10, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: November 3, 2009
- Cast: Hayden Panettiere, Jack Carpenter, Paul Rust
- Director: Chris Columbus
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 102 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: crude and sexual content, language, some teen drinking and drug references, and brief violence
- Last updated: January 2, 2023
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