It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
The writer of “I Love You, Beth Cooper” says the story is based on a dream. I believe him. This is one of the very few movies where I wanted the hero to wake up and discover it was only a dream. But it’s a dream all the way through — a dream evoking just another teen rom-com.
The situation is so universal. The high school nerd harbors a secret crush on the most popular girl in school. He chooses the occasion of his valedictory speech to proclaim in public this love. We can believe that, all the way up to the valedictory speech. But, yes, this is another movie hailing a hero with the courage to say what he really believes and accept the consequences.
Sometimes, as in a dream, doing that will pay off abundantly by focusing the popular girl’s attention on how unique and special you are. Sometimes the popular girl will reveal herself as actually a warm and cuddly human being. Sometimes. More often, the nerd will confirm everyone’s belief in his nerdhood, humiliate himself, selfishly derail the whole graduation exercise and discover that the most popular girl really is a bitch. Lots of wonderful girls fall in love with nerds. They may not become the most popular girl in school, but they don’t care. That honor carries with it a terrible lifetime price tag.
So what I wish is that “I Love You, Beth Cooper” had awakened from its dream and had been a smart high school comedy, even one subscribing to an alternate set of cliches in which the hero discovers he really loves the nerdy girl once she takes off her glasses.