A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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: March 14, 2020
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