Wednesday, January 26, 2011

She's Out Of My League Is So Familiar As To Sink Itself.

The Good: One or two laughs, Well-cast, There is some charm to it.
The Bad: Predictable, Entirely unimaginative, Utterly obvious character arcs.
The Basics: Despite some funny moments, She’s Out Of My League suffers from being predictable and having a protagonist so dumb he cannot believe he found a woman who likes him.

[This review was originally written in 2010 when I was actively screening films. So, despite the changes in tense in the opening paragraph, the review still holds. Enjoy!]

It has been a busy week for me with movie screenings and tonight’s would have been the most disappointing of the week, had Hot Tub Time Machine (reviewed here!) not been a complete bust. The problem, however, is that tonight’s film was not only entirely predictable and surprisingly lacking in laughs outside what I had already seen in the trailers, but it was entirely familiar. Tonight’s film was She’s Out Of My League and it is the 2010 reincarnation, in most substantial ways, to last year’s I Love You, Beth Cooper. If you saw I Love You, Beth Cooper (and there were admittedly few who did), there is nothing new or surprising in She’s Out Of My League. If you haven't seen it, She’s Out Of My League offers viewers startlingly little that is new, funny or clever to entice them to watch it, save that it has the charm factor the other film was lacking in.

She’s Out Of My League is a very obvious Hollywood vision comedy and when it is not too busy being predictable and obvious, it is reinforcing the worst stereotypes about human (or, at least, American) relationships. The movie has a remarkably simple premise, which it milks for as long as it can before collapsing in upon itself in a particularly unfunny collection of jokes which lead to the ultimate resolution to the film. And this becomes another movie that it is particularly difficult to muster up enthusiasm to write about only because it is so familiar. This is a “guy humor” movie intended to appeal to the dating crowd of twentysomethings who don’t particularly care about the actual message of the movie they are watching. As I am well past that demographic, She’s Out Of My League fell particularly flat with me.

Kirk works at the airport working security and doing his best to get by. He lives with his friends and is pretty much a geek. One day, Molly walks through the airport, eliciting the stares from all of the men, though Kirk is kind and treats her with respect. On her plane, she discovers she has lost her phone, calls it and Kirk – who finds it by the ringing – answers it. When her trip is done, Molly meets Kirk to recover her phone and takes him out to a hockey game as a show of thanks.

Against all of the odds – according to his friends – Kirk and Molly begin dating. However, Kirk stumbles over himself (literally and figuratively) trying to keep Molly happy, even though Molly is fairly low-maintenance for him. When Molly’s ex-boyfriend – a fighter pilot – Cam sets his sights on reuniting with Molly and Kirk’s family embarrasses him, Kirk becomes even more paranoid and he has serious doubts about keeping the relationship together.

Essentially, She’s Out Of My League is a standard mismatch comedy with the driving question being “Can Kirk keep a woman who is (supposedly) beyond his means?” The fundamental problem is that the question is inherently stupid and it is based upon suppositions that come from a very juvenile sense of romance. Why? People fall in love for all sorts of reasons and substance matters far more than flash. Take it from me; I’m not much to look at and I have a smoking hot partner. Why? Because we talk, we share common interests and we feel it.

She’s Out Of My League is so preoccupied with the surface details that it neglects the fundamental truths that come with genuine relationships. Kirk sees Molly; he doesn't dream there could be anything between them. Kirk and Molly talk. He's convinced she'll leave him. Kirk and Molly share common interests and experiences. He looks at her and is convinced she'll leave him. Kirk meets Molly’s ex. Kirk goes into hysterics and it seems to elude him that Molly did not want Cam. In other words, She’s Out Of My League is a paranoia-driven date movie where the guy is so set in his worldview that he cannot seem to conceive anything beyond it, in other words, that Molly might not be as superficial as he is.

She’s Out Of My League is superficial in every way. Molly is a stereotypical Hollywood-thin blonde (so guys, if you're taking a brunette who loathes this reinforced “ideal,” be sure to make a derogatory comment as soon as Molly appears on screen!) who has a similarly attractive sister. Kirk’s brother, Dylan, is in a relationship with another “hot” blonde. Krysten Ritter, the resident brunette in the movie – who is still frighteningly thin – is relegated to the best friend supporting role. So, Molly has looks, money and is happy to tease the guys (like frankly letting the men know she can't go swimming with them because she doesn't have a suit and is not wearing underwear). So, despite being educated in every other way, Molly has the “slutty-good girl” thing going on. And Kirk is just a geek with disheveled hair who is happy doing his own thing. The problem with She’s Out Of My League is not that Molly and Kirk don’t have a relationship that is interesting, it is that the movie becomes preoccupied with proving that they can't last.

Kirk, then, becomes a particularly uninspired protagonist because he doesn't believe in himself and unquestioningly believes what his friends and brother tell him about how he cannot sustain a relationship with Molly. And, frankly, it’s not that Kirk isn't good enough for Molly, but I found myself rooting for the relationship to fail because Kirk became so annoying about how he couldn't be with Molly when all evidence pointed to the contrary. In other words, I became disgusted by how Kirk wasn't smart enough for Molly (forget the Hollywood-beauty thing).

When it is not busy being obvious or preoccupied with an internal conflict that the title alone makes pretty clear, the movie is busy making fairly obvious shock-value jokes. There are the pretty typical and banal uses of “gay” and swearing that comes up at incredibly inappropriate moments, like around the dinner table when Kirk brings Molly home. But much of the humor is not as shocking as it might seem because the viewers have been numbed to it and it is not as explicit as other, similar movies. So, the gag that viewers are most likely to be talking about is Kirk shaving for his potential first time with Molly. But the scene, which quickly turns into Kirk being shaved, is all about the humor of what is not shown and what is implied (Devon blowing to remove the hair he has sheared off). It’s amusing, but after the shock of similar sequences in movies like The 40 Year Old Virgin, this seems tame. And this movie lacks the zany musical number and sheer Apatow weirdness of a movie like that.

Jay Baruchel and Alice Eve are cast exceptionally well as Kirk and Molly, but even that is based more on a superficial quality than anything else. Baruchel is not the Hollywood ideal of a guy by his appearance, but he is articulate and funny. Similarly, Eve shows up with the look and is not given terribly complex lines to deliver, so because she fits the physical characteristics, she works for the role.

Ultimately, though, there’s no charm to She’s Out Of My League and viewers are likely to be disappointed more than excited by this one. If you haven't seen it, there are better romantic comedies, even mismatch comedies, that work better than this one.

For other comedy reviews, please check out:
Did You Hear About The Morgans?
Going The Distance
Leap Year


For other film reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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