Director Chris Columbus, best known for directing the first two Harry Potter films and for writing such classics as Gremlins and Goonies, is trying his luck with high school comedy in I Love You, Beth Cooper starring Hayden Penettiere and Paul Rust. The film is about Buffalo Grove High School valedictorian Denis Cooverman’s (Rust), who has played it safe and made it all the way to graduation without ever breaking curfew, destroying property, consuming too much alcohol, fist fights, fast cars or women of any sort. He has decided to tell the most popular girl in school, Beth Cooper (Panetierre) that he loves her.

Going from big budgets films such as Happy Potter to I Love You, Beth Cooper is quite a change as Columbus notes himself:

“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 movies, and you tend to work at a slightly slower pace, and you become spoiled and a little soft, and I thought, ‘I need to reinvigorate the process of film-making.’ 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?’”

Apparently the answer is a film with  a simple plot, low budget and fresh young actors.  Speaking of actors in the film, Columbus repeatedly mentions the fact that his lead actress Panettiere, whom he seems quite fond of, was attached to the project from the very beginning.

“I was very taken with her because she’s very bright and has a great sense of comic timing, which I wasn’t expecting. I didn’t know from her work on Heroes whether she was capable of going a little deeper…She was game to do just about anything. It was interesting that she felt very comfortable doing the locker room scene, and I was shocked by that. I kept most of the creepy crew members to the back of the set. The older, creepier guys, who were just sneaking in to get a peek were kept at a distance. Honestly, I was really surprised by her comedic timing. Paul Rust had been studying and doing comedy for years, but I never really associated Hayden with doing comedy, and she was really spot-on, in terms of her timing, which is a very difficult thing.”

Read full interview including future projects for the director on IESB. I Love You, Beth Cooper comes out July 10th.

Does I Love You, Beth Cooper seem like a movie you will go out and see? Or are you tired of the same old high school comedy where the nerd gets popular girl after she realizes there is more to him than his brains?