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Rated PG-13

Way back in 1987, Chris Columbus made a surprisingly good teen comedy, Adventures in Babysitting. He graduated from this to bigger, but rarely better work. With I Love You, Beth Cooper, Columbus returns to his roots, and the results are depressing. The cast members are lacking in charisma. And the only surprise you’re likely to find is the disheartening one of being shocked that the film isn’t over yet at several points. What you have is a movie with a fairly amusing starting point — nerdy Denis Cooverman (Paul Rust) blurts out that he loves Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere) in his class valedictorian speech — that spends the rest of its time in search of laughs and perceptions that almost never materialize. Place a lot of the blame on the stars. Though I’m unfamiliar with Hayden Panettiere’s work in the TV series Heroes, I’ve seen her on several previous occasions — none of which I found memorable enough to remember her. I doubt this movie is going to change that. Paul Rust, on the other hand, I have never seen before. It seems improbable that I could have forgotten this Ichabod Crane incarnate had I encountered him on the screen. Apart from the fact that he’s way too old to be believable as a high-school senior, he’s simply not appealing — neither is this completely negligible film.

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