Mark Reviews Movies


3 Stars (out of 4)

Director: Jim Field Smith

Cast: Jay Baruchel, Alice Eve, T.J. Miller, Mike Vogel, Nate Torrence, Kyle Bornheimer, Jessica St. Clair, Krysten Ritter, Geoff Stults, Debra Jo Rupp

MPAA Rating: R (for language and sexual content)

Running Time: 1:44

Release Date: 3/12/10

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Review by Mark Dujsik | March 11, 2010

There are two scenes in She's Out of My League that stand out as out-of-character with the rest of the film. They are remnants of a now seemingly bygone era, in which each new comedy involving teens and young adults had to top the previous one in terms of sequences that would gross out the audience more and further test the standards of the MPAA rating system.

They aren't bad scenes, but they only exist to shock laughs out of the audience. The whole of the film is better than those relatively brief interludes (even if one of them seems to go on for a bit too long before really just going on too long), so to focus on them would be unfair to She's Out of My League, which has its most uncomfortable moment during a fight between the romantic leads. In the scene, they are blunt, honest, and self-aware, and we're uncomfortable for two reasons: We like them, and we're not used to characters in a comedy like this being so blunt, honest, and self-aware.

The guy is Kirk (Jay Baruchel), an airport security guard with grounded dreams of becoming a pilot. His ex-girlfriend (Lindsay Sloane) lives in his family's home with her new boyfriend (Hayes McArthur). He tries to win her back two years after they broke up, and as they talk, we realize the boyfriend is standing in the room. Then mom (Debra Jo Rupp) walks in. Then we realize his entire family is there, waiting for him to get shot down so they all can go to the movies without him.

The girl is Molly (Alice Eve), and when we first see her, the camera lingers on her, as all the men around her stop and turn into drooling idiots. Kirk shows her some kindness, finds her cell phone, and delivers it to her at a party she's planned (Molly continues the recent cinematic trend of professional women whose career is in event planning). She wants him to hang around the party, later suggests they take in a hockey game, and after that asks him to dinner.

Molly's best friend (Krysten Ritter) thinks she's just playing it safe after a bad breakup with her ex-boyfriend (Geoff Stults), and Kirk's friend Stainer (T.J. Miller), whose nickname is a secret until its ultimately revealed to show how much he appreciates and cares for his friend, thinks that Molly is a ten out of ten, while Kirk is maybe, possibly a five. This kind of relationship, Stainer believes after getting burned in the past, is doomed to fail. The kid just isn't qualified to date someone like Molly.

Wait, though, you might be asking: Isn't that just superficial chauvinism working? Isn't Kirk just working out some kind of self-esteem problem? Yes and yes, and instead of avoiding the issue, screenwriters Sean Anders and John Morris address it head-on.

So many romantic comedies spend their effort actively working out ways to keep their couples apart or angry at each other. Anders and Morris don't bother. They want to see these two together. They want to see what happens when a scrawny guy with a dead-end job, dysfunctional home-life, and troublesome romantic experience dates a beautiful woman with a successful career, a decision to stay away from immature guys, and, overall, a solid head on her shoulders. When the two fight or are apart (which isn't often), it is with good reason. He leaves her apartment when her parents arrive, so she doesn't return his calls. She tells him that, after spending a day with his family, she expects him to spend some time with hers. It's a red flag, that kind of behavior.

Of course, he left because they had been fooling around before the parents showed up, and he got a little too eager, to use the parlance. How the screenwriters use the incident to give us the later scene of reconciliation is admirable, the moment itself, which climaxes after his climax with a curious dog, rings false. The other sequence involves Kirk trying to shave his nether regions in preparation for his sealing the deal with Molly. It's an awkward moment, made all the more awkward when another of his friends (Nate Torrence) comes in to help. It keeps going and gets less appealing as its progresses (It wasn't too appealing to begin with, either).

Still, these are likeable characters. Kirk's friends are supportive if skeptical, and Stainer's revelation of the problems he's caused his buddy through what he thought was just good-natured ribbing is kind of sweet. His hick-ish family is appropriately grating but not too much, and the ex-boyfriend vows that he'll fight for his old flame (to Kirk, whom he thinks is gay at the time) but doesn't turn into an unnecessary obstacle.

The complications are within in She's Out of My League. It may have a bizarre but manic chase through an airport to resolve the ultimate rupture of the couple's issues (after a very funny moment in which FAA regulation squarely put the kibosh on Kirk's speech of revolt against his family), but I don't think it's too much a stretch to say that they earn it. Or at least they earn it a lot more than some other characters in similar fare.

Copyright 2010 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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