Bargain-basement Judd Apatow is the best descriptor for Jim Field Smith’s She’s Out of My League. It’s the same formula: a romantic comedy peopled by slackers who come out on top, but not before some heartfelt character growth and a smattering of R-rated high jinks. The strange thing is that the makers almost get it right.
That “almost” is the rub, however. The plot follows the usual romcom blueprint: Boy meets girl in an out-of-left-field situation, romance sprouts, but misunderstandings occur to muck everything up, only for it all to be tidied up in the final reel. It’s a concept that’s been dug up and dusted off more than dinosaur bones and here there is nary a surprise nor shock to be found.
Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder) plays Kirk, an underachieving, dorky airport-security agent, who meets the supposedly stunningly beautiful Molly (Alice Eve, Crossing Over). According to the film, Molly appears to be the end all, be all of feminine perfection, but she looks a little too much like a classier version of the girl from Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” video for me to take this seriously. Nevertheless, the two fall into a relationship and the crux of the film revolves around Kirk’s insecurities surrounding dating someone “out of his league.”
Even with a plot that runs on rails, the film has a difficult time with defining motivations—characters delve into relationships or start arguments for no other reason than the almighty script has decreed it from on high. All of this—as well as some clunky bits of acting towards the beginning that feel like excerpts from commercials for feminine-hygiene products—isn’t enough to totally sink the film. That’s because there’s a genuineness and likability in the way the film goes about its business. Baruchel, who has had a tidy little career offering comedic support, probably shouldn’t have attempted carrying a film. But he’s likable enough as this type of nebbish sort, even if I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was giving a pretty serviceable Christian Slater impersonation.
There’s nothing all that knee-slappingly hilarious in the film; the humor rarely rises above the realm of amusing. And yet, somehow, this is something of a small victory. Maybe my delicate sensibilities have been somewhat calloused by the diarrhea jokes of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell (2009) or the supposed hilarity of date rape in Observe and Report (2009), but She’s Out of My League‘s version of the gross-out—a series of gags revolving around scrotal shaving—doesn’t seem so bad (granted, the premature ejaculation bit in the trailer is even more pointless in the film proper).
As a whole, the film is harmless and painless. Sure, I suppose there’s something to be said for that, but this is the movies we’re talking about, not dental surgery, so call this a tepid endorsement at best. Rated R for language and sexual content.