Author: Jack Greenbaum
The latest trend in the romantic-comedy genre has been the schlub-centric love story, a genre characterized by awkward, unattractive male protagonists. While not a new concept, this theme has been prevalent in numerous recent romantic comedies, especially films by writer/director/producer Judd Apatow, such as “Knocked Up,” “Superbad” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” Enter “She’s Out of My League,” the newest in the schlub-love genre, a film about a less-than-handsome, ineffective, kind-hearted guy who finally gets a shot with a smart, successful and beautiful woman.
Though directed by Jim Field Smith, “She’s Out of My League” certainly carries on the ribald humor and good-guy mentality of the Apatow films, and even stars Apatow-alum Jay Baruchel. Baruchel plays Kirk, a good-natured TSA agent who does not have much luck with women. Kirk just can’t seem to find the right girl. Most of the girls he dates merely abuse him until they’re ready to move on. Things change for Kirk when he meets Molly, played by Alice Eve, the gorgeous businesswoman who seems to have everything, except for a man who can see past her perfect exterior. The fateful meeting occurs when Molly accidentally leaves her cell phone in the plastic bin at airport security, and Kirk offers to hang on to it until she returns. As a reward for his noble deed, Molly takes Kirk out, and the two hit it off.
The romance between the pair goes largely unexplained, merely shown in fleeting glances. Rather, the filmmaker chooses to focus the majority of the plot on Kirk’s insecurities with dating Molly. The movie makes constant reference to the social ranking of attractiveness upon which men and women make their dating choices. Kirk’s friends and family question how his relationship transcends that scale, pointing out that he’s a “5” dating a “hard 10.” The movie depicts the constant pressure Kirk feels as the relationship develops and various mishaps occur. Kirk’s focus often strays from intimacy and romance as he gets wrapped up in social conventions. The longer Kirk dates Molly, the more his insecurities grow, which causes greater stress on their relationship.
In the film, Baruchel’s performance as Kirk seems to be purposely awkward, but oftentimes his character’s lack of confidence closely mirrors the nature of his performance. Eve’s portrayal of Molly is witty and charming, and it is engaging to see such a beautiful actress play such a grounded character. However, as in most romantic comedies, some of the most pivotal characters are the friends of both the boyfriend and girlfriend – in this film, the friends shine.
Kirk’s cabal of airport buddies give the right balance of bawdy fraternity and compassionate confidantes in a fashion reminiscent of great bromances from such fare as “Knocked Up” and “Old School.” Molly’s bestie Patty, played by Krysten Ritter, is also a loyal companion, providing a contrasting opinion on Molly’s relationship with Kirk, asking the question the audience is thinking: Why is she with him in the first place?
Also important to the film is Kirk’s family, the quirky and oft-inappropriate relations who scrutinize his relationship, helping him to better understand where his self-deprecation comes from. The story is filled with an equilibrium of cringe-worthy moments and tenderly sweet scenes that make the film heart-warmingly funny.
“She’s Out of My League” provides a much needed reprieve from the intense and epic films of Oscar season. A light-hearted comedy that explores the insecurities of dating, the film delivers hearty laughs and tender smiles. Anyone who’s a fan of the underdog, especially in matters of the heart, should check out this sweet, silly picture.
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