Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I Love You, Beth Cooper

Before I Love You, Beth Cooper was a goofy teen movie, it was a book by Larry Doyle - writer of such esteemed work as Beavis and Butthead, The Simpsons, and one article in The Buffalo Grove High School Charger.

The typical slightly-dirty-and-always-boozy-party-romp story that has become the American "classic coming of age" in recent years (think American Pie, Can't Hardly Wait, Superbad...) in book form (or movie form for that matter) has never been my cup of tea. But I didn't say I'd be reading 100 extremely difficult, life changing books this year. Just 100 books. And this one was promised to be "laugh-out-loud funny" and you know what? I did catch myself laughing out loud - more than once.

While the vaudeville-ian physical humor carried the plot along and most of the humor, there were a few lines in the text that were brilliant, and - I'll bet- missing from the movie.

Page 100:
"Can I borrow your cell phone? I --"
"Good Catch," Beth said. She pulled her cell phone from her purse and tossed it out of the car. "GPS that, asshole."
The phone flew through the window of a passing Honda Civic and hit Harold Angell, a thirty-four-year-old nurse practitioner who had no ironic connection to anyone in the car."

The novel reads a bit too much like a script - almost as if before he sat down to write, Doyle had already decided that the destiny of Beth Cooper was to be embodied by Hollywood starlet Hayden Panettiere. Not surprising given his background in writing for TV. Than why not just cut to the chase and write a screenplay? Maybe because there is more money to be made when a popular piece is manifested in multiple forms. Maybe because Doyle was looking for a media in which clever asides do not have to be in dialogue. Maybe because "novelist" looks and feels good when viewed on a resume-website. Who knows?

What I do know is that my high school experience was not at all like the that of the characters in this book, what with their crashing of an H2 Hummer through the front door of a classmate's home, a sexy boy-girl shower after school in the gym locker room, and almost no consequences whatsoever. The music, on the other hand - I did get. What high schooler hasn't made the soundtrack of our lives? This one punctuated by Alice Cooper, The Verve Pipe, Sarah McLachlan and Billy Idol among others, I happily sang along in my head - duly-noting the quotes from Romeo and Juliet, Footloose, Clueless, Napoleon Dynamite...

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