While I’m not a fan of the recent work of director Chris Columbus (the first two Harry Potter films insured that I would never read the books), his juvenile marriage of Judd Apatow-styled humor (think Superbad) and late-period John Hughes (the underrated Some Kind of Wonderful) in Beth Cooper is far more likeable than I might have imagined.
Paul Rust as Denis is the geek society places on the pedestal as the ideal complete with the skinny hairless body and the beaky nose mounted on his over-sized head. He looks exactly like he would have the answer to any question. And Hayden Panettiere remains the indestructible perky cheerleader, although I’m not sure she would inspire the kind of idealized love that Denis feels for Beth Cooper. Yet her expressionless eyes and perfect blank slate become special effects of a sort during those Beth Cooper character moments. She doesn’t feel, nor does she seem to know who or what she is, much like Arnold’s Terminator or Keanu’s Neo. Which means she might have a future somewhere down the line.
Columbus crowds the frame with friends for the mismatched pair, but the margins are oddly bare for large stretches, forcing us to focus on Denis and Beth, and by extension Rust and Panettiere, which isn’t as tortuous as Year One. I say every geeky guy should profess his love for the unattainable dream queen and start a brand new world order. Grade: B-
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