On DVD: She’s Out of My League

According to his friends and himself, Kirk (Jay Baruchel) is a five out of ten on a scale of general sex appeal. Funny, because that’s the exact score I give this film. Kirk’s a decent enough guy. A bit scrawny, has some self-esteem issues, but he’s funny at times, genuine and often charming. I don’t know about those negatives, but the positives could also be said about “She’s Out of My League.”

There are moments when the sweet-natured interior of this story of “geek gets girl” shines through a bit and I speculate “Sex Drive” writers Sean Anders and John Morris intended that more than the finished product would lead us to believe. But it seems as though a producer stepped in and said, “this isn’t Judd Apatow enough,” so “League” gravitates between being a surprisingly likable romantic comedy and a direct-to-DVD stereotype.

So much is hit or miss in this film that it’s likely to be enjoyed or despised, which strangely reflects the thematic angle of how we perceive ourselves and the people we’re interested in or dating. Molly (Alice Eve) defines ten out of ten in terms of looks, a well-paying job — the whole package. Kirk, meanwhile, works at the airport for the TSA. By a stroke of luck they even interact with each other and once you get over that she asks him out, their relationship is the best part of the film.

Eve impresses, maybe because she’s written to be more than just boobs in a dress, even if the camera ogles her and every cast member is supposed to stare slack-jawed at her at some point in the film. After director Jim Field Smith establishes that she’s hot, she gets a likable personality and Eve manages to create a complexity about her even though her character’s motivation is “you like Kirk because he’s ‘safe,'” which I don’t think is enough to defy laws of a attraction, but somehow she makes it work. Baruchel is a likable schlub and so the two manage to pull off the romance elements of the film. It’s when they go back to their friends that the film goes back to being bad.

You know them well by now, the group of friends in every movie who are nothing but cardboard cut-outs intended for humor, pop culture references and the like. In this case, because the movie is about this relationship and literally nothing else, they also serve to create a dialogue of the main characters’ consciences. The two best buddies to Kirk and Molly respectively are Stainer (T.J. Miller) and Patty (Krysten Ritter). Ritter is quite possibly the least funny thing about this movie because she plays the whole thing over-the-top. Miller occasionally pulls off the sentimental stuff well, but his character is one of those typical stream-of-insults guys who’s a mix between a Seth Rogen character and Napoleon Dynamite and sometimes he looks like he’s just saying the funny stuff written in the script, not actually acting. One of Kirk’s buddies is played by Nate Torrence (“Get Smart”), who proves why he’s been in other (bigger) films with his solid timing.

The main source of problems for “League” is its director. Smith cancels out every good scene between Baruchel and Eve by putting in something that makes him seem completely negligent of the script, which is actually a good script on the whole. Whether it’s a cliché pan around Stainer’s head as he tells of a sentimental memory or your typical slow-mo build up when Kirk and his brother are challenging each other to a hockey game in the basement, Smith provides plenty proof why he should probably be directing all those “American Pie presents” frat movies that get churned out twice a year. It’s particularly painful when you can sense that there’s some quality in a film and the director worsens it and it succumbs to the “let’s do what we think is popular” machine.

So “She’s Out of My League” gets a five. Though it could easily be a seven or a three.

2.5/5 Stars

She’s Out of My League
Directed by Jim Field Smith
Written by Sean Anders, John Morris
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Alice Eve


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