The term “chick flick” can still be used today when referring to certain cliché-ridden romantic comedies, that may still be enjoyable, but are aimed mainly at women, with few redeeming qualities to entertain any man that may be accompanying them. In recent years however, studios have been coming out with more risqué romantic comedies in an effort to appeal to both sexes. Films like Wedding Crashers, The 40-Year Old Virgin, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and The Ugly Truth, to name some, have helped open up audiences to the fact that romantic comedies don’t have to all be fairytale stories. They can speak about the truth in relationships, as well as what’s really going through the mind of both sexes through characters we can relate with, while also telling a story of two people falling in love.
She’s Out of My League is one of the most recent films to follow this trend, and it’s actually quite a surprise. What looks to be just a mediocre, direct-to-video premise, actually is a lot deeper than the trailers, adds and promotions give it credit for. The film stars Jay Baruchel (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, How to Train Your Dragon) as Kirk, an ordinary guy who can’t seem to catch a break in life, and thus feels trapped where he is, working security at the airport with his three friends, living at home with his unsupportive parents, abusive brother, and his ex-girlfriend, Marnie (Lindsay Sloane), who his family seem to care about more than him.
Proving that Kirk thinks he’s got nowhere else to go, he sits and pines for the days when he and Marnie were together, and when we first meet him, he’s working out a way in which he can woo her back. His friends, Stainer (T.J. Miller), Jack (Mike Vogel) and Devon (Nate Torrence), all object to the reunion, reminding him how she treated him like crap when they were together, and tell him he’s got to move on with his life. Soon after, as fate would have it (this is still a romantic comedy after all), a beautiful woman named Molly (Alice Eve) walks through airport security, turning the heads of every male in the terminal, and causing most of airport security to make fools of themselves in an attempt to impress her. As one not to be intimidated by a woman clearly out of his league, Kirk quickly comes to her aid, checks her through, and off she goes to catch her flight.
After getting on the plane just in time, Molly realizes she’s lost her phone, and in an attempt to find it, her friend Patty (Krysten Ritter) calls the phone only to have Kirk answer. It seems that as another twist of fate would have it, Molly has left her phone at the security gate. She tells Kirk to hold onto it, as her plane is taking off, and she’ll meet up with him the following day to retrieve it. After returning the phone, Kirk is invited out by Molly, on what he doesn’t suspect is a date as she clearly couldn‘t be interested in him, yet it is just that.
While the set-up still has some cliché moments, it’s the characters and their situations that help make the film more believable. These aren’t perfect people (well, Molly is, according to everyone in the film) but they’re people we, as the audience, can relate with. Who hasn’t at some point felt trapped where they are in life? Who hasn’t felt like things aren’t going to get any better, so they might as well make the best of what they have instead of pushing themselves harder? Kirk is a character that a lot of people can likely relate with, and thus, he works perfectly as the underdog we root for, because we want to see that it’s possible to succeed from his position, because if he can do it, why can’t we?
Just because I said earlier that romantic comedies have come a long way in enticing both sexes to their stories, doesn’t mean that the stories themselves still don’t have their required moments that need to be hit. The plot of the film is paint-by-numbers, as you’re never really in suspense as to what may happen next. There are very few romantic comedies that can pull off any type of suspense, or uncertainty on what the outcome of the film may be, and this is not one of those films.
The thing is, it’s witty, and enjoyable, and the chemistry between Baruchel and Miller is perfect. Yes, I’m talking about two of the guys in the film before I talk about the two romantic leads, but it’s the interaction between Kirk and Stainer that really stands out. While Vogel and Torrence are great in their roles as Kirk’s friends (Torrence especially has some great lines and deliveries), Kirk and Stainer stand out from the other two, and seem like the two best friends of the group. The journey they take together of trying to piece together just what it is exactly they’ve been doing wrong in life is a great one, and one that I’m sure a lot of guys (maybe girls as well) can relate with. To me, this relationship evolution was just as important as the one between Molly and Kirk, and in my eyes, added an emotional level to the film that could have easily been disregarded in favour of flat-out goofy friends. Luckily it wasn’t, and the film is stronger because of it.
The chemistry between Eve and Baruchel works well, though just as the tag-line of the film goes, a lot may wonder just how a 5 can end up with a 10. Of course, it’s part of the message of the film, that numbers don’t mean everything, and the scene where Stainer is explaining just the opposite, and how numbers work in relation to who can date whom in life is one of those memorable scenes in a film that stand out.
In the end, She’s Out of My League is a good time to be had, with memorable lines, and a solid group of characters. Both men and women should enjoy this one, as it does have something for everyone, though with the main character being a guy, and a lot of the interaction and interpretations coming from the male perspective, be ready for things to be a tad more crude than they are charming.
The audio sounds great with DTS-HD Master Audio, and there aren’t any moments when you’re straining to hear what’s being said, or find yourself jumping for the remote because the music plays on an entirely different level than the dialogue. The video transfer, done in Dolby Digital is also solid. The pictures are bright, and colours are crisp. It’s not a film which depends on visuals, but there aren’t any moments when you’re taken out of the film by a grainy or darkened scene.
Commentary – Director Jim Field Smith gives a commentary on the film, which fans of the film may find interesting.
Deleted Scenes – As per usual, deleted scenes are what they are, and going through them really quick, it’s once again understandable why they were taken off the table. Usually it’s because they break up the flow of the film, and aside from one where Molly and Kirk are approaching his home for the first time, the rest really would throw things off, and were unnecessary.
Blooper Reel – The blooper reel is actually quite funny, if you’re into these types of things. They’re usually thrown in at the end of the film during the credits nowadays, but this one can be found here. It shows how certain lines were played with, and ad-libbed by the actors, until the right ones were found. When you see what they played with, while sometimes funny, thankfully the best were chosen for the final cut.
Devon’s Dating Show – A Hilarious “Do’s and Don’ts” – This ‘show’ is about 7 minutes 30 seconds long, and stars Kirk’s friend Devon, as well as his annoying older brother from the film, Dylan (Kyle Bornheimer) and is funny enough, but really not required viewing. The two go back and forth, with Devon doing his usual “Prince Charming” routine of what you should do on a date, or with a woman, and Dylan saying he’s a moron, and giving a “Prince Raunchy” version of how things should be done. Again, it’s good for a laugh or two, but is really throwaway.
While not the best romantic comedy to arrive in recent years, She’s Out of My League is a solid film that can easily pass as an enjoyable rental, and maybe even a purchase for those who enjoy it the first time around. It works well for both sexes, and both should be able to laugh at scenes, themes or dialogue that many of us have at some point been through, thought about, or talked about ourselves.
Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks presents She‘s Out of My League. Starring: Jay Baruchel, Alice Eve, T.J. Miller, Mike Vogel, Nate Torrence. Running time: 104 minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released on DVD: June 22, 2010.
Brendan Campbell was here when Inside Pulse Movies began, and he’ll be here when it finishes - in 2012, when a cataclysmic event wipes out the servers, as well as everyone else on the planet other than John Cusack and those close to him. Brendan’s the #1 supporter of Keanu Reeves, a huge fan of popcorn flicks and a firm believer that sheer entertainment can take a film a long way. He currently resides in Canada, where, for reasons stated above, he’s attempting to get closer to John Cusack.