Judd Apatow unleashed many things when he crafted The 40 Year Old Virgin, a sweet and remarkably vulgar romantic comedy, but the one thing that people have taken from that film is that one can take a good romantic comedy and pepper it with enough vulgarity to expand its appeal beyond the usual “chick flick” audience. And that’s what She’s Out of My League essentially is: an inoffensive PG-13 romantic comedy with some depth and enough vulgarity to justify its R rating.
Kirk (Jay Baruchel) is a dorky TSA employee pining over his ex (Lindsay Sloane) and works with friends of his from high school: wannabe rock star Stainer (T.J Miller), ladies man Jack (Mike Vogel) and the married Devon (Nate Torrence). And then one day they all meet event planner Molly (Alice Eve) in a meet cute sequence in which Kirk finds himself in possession of her lost cell phone. When a thank you involves a double date with Stainer to a hockey game with her co-worker (Krysten Ritter), sparks fly between the two and a relationship ensues.
The last true story-telling genre in Hollywood is the romantic comedy, if only because the conventions are so well known that in order to really tell a good story one has to do it well. And while She’s Out of My League doesn’t reinvent the wheel in that aspect, there’s a touching emotional aspect to it that lifts it above the formulaic conventions it mainly inhabits. And it starts because its two leading characters have a believable chemistry.
For both it represents their first foray into a leading light. Baruchel has mainly been known for smaller roles in better films while Eve has been in a number of smaller films up until this point. They work well together as there’s a fumbling nature to their relationship that is refreshing. The way they move around each other and react is interesting to watch; it gives a lot of credence to what is seemingly the newfound Hollywood convention of the socially awkward ugly guy and the fetching beauty finding love with one another.
The other reason why the film works as well as it does is because of the script. The film has a number of good, emotional moments that allow both Kirk and Molly to be fully realized characters as opposed to one note clichés. Several of their major arguments throughout the film have enough perspective to see both sides. There’s a real relationship between the two, or as real as it can get in a film, and the issues between them aren’t simple. For Kirk, he’s always worried that Molly is going to leave him for someone better. It’s interesting to see how he handles it and how it’s discussed between his friends. For Molly, she’s given more to work with then merely being the object of pursuit. It’s refreshing to see a female character in a romantic comedy given some depth.
She’s Out of My League suffers because it holds quite rigidly to the conventions of the genre. Where there could be more interesting turns and developments in the story, which is where it seems to be going, there are the clichéd developments from dozens of inferior films about a boy meeting a girl. It’s a shame, really, because there’s a brilliance in it waiting to come out that never really does.
Director: Jim Field Smith Notable Cast: Jay Baruchel, Alice Eve, Mike Vogel, Krysten Ritter, T.J Miller, Nate Torrence, Lindsay Sloane, Geoff Stults, Debra Jo Rupp Writer(s): Sean Anders & John Morris
Scott Sawitz is an Inside Pulse original. He's also been featured on The Ultimate Fighter.com, Fox Sports.com, Nerdcore Movement.com, CagePotato.com, Inside Fights.com and Film Arcade.net (among others). When Scott isn't writing about film he's making his own. Check out Drunk Justice Productions right here.