When I read I Love You, Beth Cooper -- and wrote about the book here a few months ago -- I knew that the on-the-way film adaptation would be thorny. Now that I've seen the film, I can say that it is not merely thorny; it is a textbook case of an adaptation gone wrong. Working from his own mostly delightful novel, Simpsons vet Larry Doyle is like a novice driver who, in trying to avoid potholes, veers to hit every one. And, in what he should consider a betrayal of epic proportions, Doyle gets absolutely no help from anyone involved with the film -- not from the cast, not from the editor, and certainly not from director Chris Columbus, who is utterly helpless when his material is not inherently strong.

I hasten to add that I Love You, Beth Cooper is not that bad -- I think it's a bit better than our Peter Martin lets on, and certainly better than our Eric D. Snider insists. But the movie -- still about a geeky, virginal high school senior who confesses his love for the class hottie in his graduation speech -- is sappy, muddled, and just mystifyingly unfunny. Consider that the novel is hip, razor-sharp, and hilarious, and you start to get a sense of what a rare specimen this adaptation is. So what happened?