People Tell Me I Look Like Han Solo.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
  DVD Review: She's Out of My League

She's Out of My League is a charming, sweet and pretty funny little romantic comedy about an awkward airport security guard named Kirk (Jay Baruchel) who somehow finds himself dating Molly (Alice Eve), a ridiculously hot party planner. The movie never strays too much from the usual notes movies like this typically hit, but it's a light, fluffy piece of entertainment that bops along nicely. It's certainly not one of the funniest movies I've ever seen, but it made me laugh more than I expected it to, and it's filled with solid, funny actors in supporting roles, which helps to elevate the material above the usual generic "raunchy" relationship comedy.

A lot of the plot and characters in She's Out of My League are fairly paint-by-numbers; Kirk's family is the token group of lowbrow social misfits who say and do inappropriate things at dinner, a mirror image of every wacky family in movies like this, and his gang of buddies is basically lifted from The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and every other movie like that (there's the ladies man, the smartass and the guy who's even more of a loser than the hero), but the actors in those roles are actually pretty good for the most part (especially T.J. Miller as the smart-alecky Stainer), so it never really grates.

She's Out of My League is definitely an R-rated comedy, but it never feels like director Jim Field Smith is piling on gross-out humor or raunchy gags (though there are some of those, including the requisite ejaculation joke, which makes me wonder if there might actually be a guidebook for creating movies like this) for cheap laughs. Because it lacks the pedigree (i.e. a producer credit from Judd Apatow) of similar comedies in recent years, I assumed it would go that route, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's a fairly smart, legitimately funny comedy.

The movie's primary weapon is Jay Baruchel in the lead. The Montreal-bred actor is really cementing himself as the go-to guy for geek-types in movies, and he's one of the best at it. He's really funny, and he also conveys a vulnerability and sweetness that makes viewers naturally want to root for him. He's funny without stealing scenes from his comic-relief sidekicks, and charming enough to make Kirk seem like he could legitimately be appealing to Molly. Once the movie gets going and you get to know the characters a little bit, it never seems that weird that Molly would be into him. She's Out of My League smartly plays up Kirk's insecurity, rather than the incongruity of their respective appearances, which I found refreshing.

The only character in the movie who isn't surprised by Molly's attraction to Kirk is Molly herself. Alice Eve doesn't have to do much as Molly other than look hot (which, admittedly, she's pretty awesome at), as she's mostly the straight-woman, but she's got solid comic timing and a charm about her that quickly reassures viewers that there's no third act twist coming that reveals that Molly to be a superficial monster who's actually just messing with Kirk. But she really sells from the moment she enters the movie that she's genuinely into Kirk, and it makes her an easy character to like.

Things do get pretty cliché in the third act, and the "conflict" at the end feels even more tacked on than usual for a movie like this. It was literally midway through Kirk and Molly's climactic argument before I realized, "Oh! This is the part where they fight so he can go win her back…!", it was so ridiculously out-of-the-blue. At this point in our cinematic evolution, I think you have to either really nail that part of the movie, or don't do it at all. The idea that there has to be some conflict for them to overcome in order to be a couple is just lazy, paint-by-numbers screenwriting, and while I realize that most of the appeal for She's Out of My League has to do with it knowing exactly what kind of movie it is, but I really would have like the movie more if it wasn't so satisfied to just hit all the usual marks. I mean, for the love of god, there's a climactic scene involving characters running through an airport! Are you even trying when you sit down to write that sequence in the 21st century? In fact, I'm starting to wonder they didn't make Kirk and his buddies airport workers just so they could use that cliché. If they were trying to be ironic or comment on romantic comedies, they failed.

But overall, as a guy whose dating life probably skews a bit closer to Kirk's than I'd like to admit, She's Out of My League is a sweet little wish-fulfillment romantic-comedy, the geeky male equivalent of the movie where the mousy career woman (who is actually clearly just a ridiculously hot woman under glasses and a bad wig) successfully convinces Matthew McConaughey or Gerard Butler to stop his womanizing ways and settle down. It's a nice, disposable piece of entertainment, and it's helped greatly by the fact that it's actually quite funny. It's sweet enough to keep the guy half of a date night interested, and sweet enough to appeal to fans of romantic comedies.


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