A film review by Craig J. Koban March 18, 2010
SHE'S OUT OF MY LEAGUE
2010, R, 106 mins.
2010, R, 106 mins.
Kirk: Jay Baruchel / Molly: Alice Eve / Stainer: T.J.
Miller / Jack: Mike Vogel / Devon: Nate Torrence / Marnie:
Lindsay Sloane / Dylan: Kyle Bornheimer / Mrs. Kettner: Debra
Jo Rupp / Mr. Kettner: Adam LeFevre
to one character in the new romcom SHE’S OUT OF MY LEAGUE there are
"Laws of Physical Attractiveness" that govern the universe.
In simple, it states that couples separated by more than “2” on
a numerical scale out of ten will have no chance in hell of success.
what does that mean for me and…say…Megan Fox…a woman
clearly a 10?
am average looking...not ugly, but not hunky.
So I think I'm a 6. Add one
point for being smart (at least I tell myself that I am smart), which would
take me to 7. I also think
that I am outgoing and moderately funny, so that takes me to 8.
Subtract 1 because I am flabby…and perhaps another point because
I do not own a home (I still rent…sigh).
That takes me to a 6. However,
I have spectacular taste in movies, which adds one point and takes me
back to 7. Whoops...I am also very
self-pitying at times, so subtract another point. I'm officially a
6. Alas, Fox is a 10
and I am a 6, and according to the laws of physical attractiveness, we can
never be, which makes me sad. Sniffle…sniffle.
SHE’S OUT OF MY LEAGUE asks viewers to believe in a romance that is…let’s say…pure science fiction to most, myself included: It deals with a young man that is, but his friends' estimation, a 5 and through a miraculous series of events he finds himself being courted by not only a 10, but “a hard 10” that could be a borderline 11. So unattainably hot is this woman that, to paraphrase the great Frank Drebin, “She could melt a cheese sandwich from across the room.” On many levels, the film is the ultimate geek/underdog/male pornographic wish fulfillment fantasy: You know the kind, the one where a decent, affable, gawky looking, but noble minded everyman doofus uses his neurotic charisma to win over a limitlessly gorgeous woman that he should have no business being with.
course, this theme has been explored in countless recent romcoms to great
and rousing success (see KNOCKED UP for the finest example), so it would
hard to label SHE’S OUT OF MY LEAGUE as wholeheartedly original. It tells a fairly formulaic and perfunctory story that
follows the basic genre mechanizations with an unavoidable certainty.
This is a standard order romcom by many definitions, but what
ultimately makes it agreeable is that, much like the films of the Judd
Apatow canon, its underlining sweetness in tone manages to overshadow its
frat house-esque moments of R-rated raunchiness.
Even better, it actually manages to invest some time developing an
understanding for how an implausible relationship like the one presented
could actually work.
“5” in question is Kirk (Jay Baruchel), whose bffs, Stainer (T.J.
Miller), Jack (Mike Vogel), and Devon (Nate Torrence) frequently remind
him as to his numerical status. Kirk’s
friends also seem to live vicariously through him, which often leaves him the victim of some seriously demented psychoanalysis.
Kirk has caring bromates, for sure, but his luck with the ladies is at a
virtually standstill. Why?
Well…he’s a 5. Why is he a 5?
He’s socially awkward, painfully inhibited, fumbles with words,
and has such a do-gooder and naďve personality that’s kind and
apologetic in the most aggressive ways possible.
He works at a go-nowhere job as a security guard at TWA (he wanted
to train to be a pilot, which has permanently been put on hold), and has just
broken up with his long-term girlfriend. Worse yet is that his ex's new beau has become best
buddies with his mom and dad. Hell,
Kirk’s parents don’t even like nor respect him all that much.
Adding to his existentialist funk is the fact that he's a hopeless “moodle,” or
man poodle, a label that his friends describe as
being like a cute puppy dog: Women want to hug Kirk, take him out for
walks, and feed him…but they rarely ever want to screw him.
No babe wants to “do the moodle.”
as it always does, steps in for Kirk in the form of the very sultry, very
charming, and very much a “hard 10” in Molly (Alice Eve), who
accidentally leaves her cell phone behind at the security checkpoint that
Kirk works at. She contacts him on it and is relieved that he has her phone
and they arrange to get together so she can get it back. She invites him to a swank party for the exchange and Kirk's
self-esteem tells him that this is nothing more than just a platonic
get-together. However, he
becomes more than startled when Molly begins to take a personal interest
in him, which annoys her own best friend, Patty (a spunky and feisty
Krysten Ritter), as she believes that Kirk is way below Molly's standards.
She also thinks that the sting of her very recent break-up to a chiseled
hunk of a man has left her on the rebound.
Molly asserts herself, though, and offers no apologies for her
actions. She sees Kirk as an
inept and bumbling underachiever that is physically very far from her
previous boyfriends, but she nonetheless likes him because he’s...well...so nice.
all of his expectations, Kirk finds himself dating this blonde bombshell
goddess from above, even when his friends and family constantly seem
puzzled and incredulous at the thought of him even being within earshot of
this woman. Slowly, but
surely, Kirk’s stifling insecurities about himself – largely
precipitated by his friends and family – begin to get the better of him
just when things are getting really good with Molly, but it is those
insecurities that start to become a real turn off to her.
She has become fond of Kirk and begins to relate to him as a
person, but when he begins to lose faith in not only himself, but also
for the foundations of their improbable relationship, she too begins to
have doubts. As a result,
Kirk begins to realize that he will have to pull out all of the stops to
secure Molly as his exclusive girlfriend…even when the Laws of Physical
Attractiveness shadows him at every waking turn.
OUT OF MY LEAGUE gets something right that so many other romcoms fail to accomplish: it introduces
us to two likeable and appealing leads and makes us like them so much that
you want to root them on to that pre-end credit final kiss and
reconciliation. On these
levels, I am willing to forgive just about any romcom for being predictable, and SHE’S OUT OF MY LEAGUE is certainly
Especially routine are the complications to Kirk and
Molly’s romance, like the appearance of her old boyfriend that is
physically superior to Kirk in everyway, or her snobby parents that
don’t understand Kirk, or the classic misunderstandings between Kirk and
Molly…and…well…you get what I mean.
The film even concludes in the most overused venue for two lovers
to reacquaint themselves in the movies, the airport, but this time it has the
woman chasing after than man…and the man at least works there.
Baruchel has an ill-at-ease-within-his-own-skin quality that makes it easy
to invest in his plight. He’s
an uncoordinated geek, to be sure, but he is a sincere, honest, and decent
geek. I also appreciated how well
the film makes the Alice Eve character both a prototypical embodiment of
every man’s fantasy woman as well as a flesh and blood person with real
feelings and insecurities. She’s
not a one-note simpleton or brainless sex pot; Molly is a babe and a half,
but the film makes you genuinely believe that she would give this hapless
loser a snowball’s chance in hell.
Baruchel and Eve occupy a few tender scenes in the film that have a
real emotional honesty as well, which helps to elevate the film above
being a disposable and forgettable genre effort.
film is also insidiously funny at times, mostly for the philosophizing trash
talk between Kirk and his sometimes-clueless friends (T.J.
Miller in particular has a deadpan, Jason Lee-manner of vulgar frankness
that is kind of infectious). There
are also some funny sequence that largely stem for moments of supreme
social embarrassment for Kirk, such as one very highly
inopportune moment when Molly’s parents pay the two a visit just as the
pair have rounded second, hit third, and have almost made it to home base.
Well…Kirk did make it to home base…in his pants…which leads
to the film’s single greatest shock laugh and moment of brutal honesty
when Kirk later offers up an explanation as to why he refused to stand up
to shake her father’s hand. This
might be the only time in film history when a bodily fluid prematurely
unleashed in one’s pants is used as an excuse for improper behavior to
win over the trust of a girl.
Not all of SHE’S OUT OF MY LEAGUE is hilarious, like a few impromptu moments of gross out humor that this film definitely did not need, like a scene that involves two grown men, the hairy groin region of one of them, and a pair of barber’s clippers that would never, ever occur between two straight men. That, and the film never plausibly grounds its airport scenes (the security here, provided by Kirk and his buds, feels scandalously unsafe) and Kirk’s family are presented as simplistic, cardboard drones at service of the plot. Yet, in the end, SHE’S OUT OF MY LEAGUE is a sex fantasy that fires on most of its intended cylinders and succeeds. I found myself willing to overlook the sheer impossibility of Kirk and Molly’s relationship being a reality because of the ways the actors made me believe in it.
Hmmm...maybe there's hope for Megan Fox and me after all?.