By Fred Topel | Image property of 20th Century Fox, TrailerAddict
Chris Columbus used to be the man when it came to kids movies. He created a teen classic in The Goonies which he wrote and Adventures in Babysitting which he directed. Then he went younger with Home Alone and Harry Potter. I Love You, Beth Cooper is his first return to the teen genre that did him so well.
Chris Columbus on I Love You, Beth Cooper
“You have to go back to Adventures in Babysitting,” Columbus said. “That’s where you’ve got to start. For me, the reason I did this movie was that I was in a situation where you have big budgets, like with the Harry Potter movie, and you tend to work at a slightly slower pace, and you become spoiled and a little soft. I thought, ‘I need to reinvigorate the process of filmmaking.’ I wanted to go back to that, and I said to myself, ‘If I were getting out of film school right now and I was starting to direct my first movie, what would I do?’ And, I went back and looked at the movies I had written, Gremlins and Goonies, and then I looked at the first movie I directed, which was Adventures in Babysitting. This had been sitting in our office as a book, and Hayden [Panettiere] was attached to it, and I thought, ‘Well, this could be a companion piece to Adventures in Babysitting.’ This gave me an opportunity to do a movie on a lower budget, fairly quickly, with a brand new cast, and try to recreate that energy for a filmmaker, like myself, who’s been given a lot of money to make movies.”
Returning to a run and gun style, Columbus doesn’t have to make Transformers money for Beth Cooper to succeed. “No, we can make a couple million dollars and we’re fine. It was just so much fun to make and there’s very little stress with the release of this movie because of that. You want it to do well, but you hope people will discover it. You still hope that there’s a section of moviegoers out there, who are willing to discover something. With Borat, the movie was released in a select number of theaters, so everybody was fighting to get it and that created this communal experience where the theater was filled, which worked great for a comedy. Now, when movies open in 4,000 theaters, it’s very difficult.”
I Love You, Beth Cooper
Of course, teens now are a lot more reckless than they might have been in the ‘80s, at least to the extent that it’s all more documented. There’s bad behavior in Beth Cooper but Columbus feels that’s part of growing up.
“I think it is, but you draw a fine line as to whether it’s good or bad. Ironically, if you look at the film carefully, they’re never drinking and driving, so that’s good. They might be drunk, but it’s PG-13. I’m not advocating it, but having teenagers of my own, I couldn’t deny that it’s something that goes on. But, I certainly don’t want to advocate that. That would be horrible. I think the most reckless thing in the movie, which scares me, is turning off the headlights and driving. That, to me, is just insane, but it’s funny and it worked, comedically, for that particular scene in the movie. It’s a sense of not being a hypocrite, in terms of remembering what my teenage years were like, which were very similar to this, in terms of me being a nerd and not being able to ask any girls out.”
Adult characters flash back to their teenage years too, and teenagers back to childhood, so Columbus came up with a way to portray that simply. “That was easy. That was fairly simple. I was more concerned about the look of the flashbacks. We talked about whether or not we’d make them in black and white or sepia, or something like that, but in the end, we decided not to. I just thought that snapping in and out of them, as opposed to dissolving, was probably the best way to do it.”
I Love You, Beth Cooper opens to theaters on July 10th.