Did erstwhile John Hughes protégé and Harry Potter progenitor Chris Columbus fall behind on his payments on a sub-prime mortgage? Or have to pony up for an emergency organ transplant? Even if so, I'm not sure it fully excuses this joyless, offensively stupid end-of-high-school farce, set into motion when nerdy valedictorian Dennis Cooverman (Paul Rust) uses his commencement address to profess his unrequited love for the titular cheerleading goddess (Hayden Panettiere). Complications ensue as the numinous Ms. Cooper pays a grad-night visit chez Cooverman with two gal pals in tow and a coked-up Army brat boyfriend (Shawn Roberts) in hot pursuit. Cue the listless succession of house trashings, party crashings, realizations that beautiful people can be insecure, too, and enough reckless driving to result in a double-digit body count—fitting for a movie that's about as funny as a hit-and-run. At least Columbus and writer Larry Doyle are up-front about their inspirations, giving Dennis a film-geek BFF (Jack T. Carpenter) who name-checks Risky Business and a dad played by none other than Ferris Bueller wingman Alan Ruck. But why no love for Columbus's own 1987 debut feature, Adventures in Babysitting, which went through these same one-wild-night paces with real ingenuity and pizzazz—and less need to persistently debase its characters? "This isn't fun anymore," says the wise young Cooverman after his third or fourth near-death experience. "Who says it's supposed to be fun?" replies his unattainable lady love. Exactly.
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