The cute, virginal nerd who triumphs in the pleasantly low-key teen comedy I Love You, Beth Cooper fulfills an ambition at once more chaste and more daring than the sexual goals set by the cute, virginal nerds who ruled in Superbad: Right up there on the stage at Buffalo Grove High School’s graduation, valedictorian Denis Cooverman (comedy improv regular Paul Rust, from the Adrien Brody school of proboscic grandeur) makes the title declaration to the object of his unrequited affection (Heroes’ Hayden Panettiere), a tough little pistol of a cheerleader. Superbrave! Then he speaks his mind to other high school archetypes, including the school bully, the class rich bitch, Beth’s bulldog of an older boyfriend, and Denis’ own drama-loving best friend who hasn’t declared his sexual orientation, leaving his classmates to declare it for him.
The movie, directed with modesty by Home Alone and Harry Potter helmer Chris Columbus from a swell book and screenplay by comic writer Larry Doyle (Buffalo Grove class of ‘76), follows the fallout from Denis’ barn-burning speech — a cheery night to-remember comedy of outlandish, unlikely coincidences and lively mishaps, culminating in the shared witness of a sweet, hope-streaked sunrise. The story is timeless; this could have taken place when Doyle graduated in ‘76 — or any year, really, since the effects of high school linger throughout adult life and nerds are forever. B+