Published Mar 11, 2010Films from the Judd Apatow assembly line are often slammed as male wish-fulfilment fantasies where beautiful women fall inexplicably for schlubby, unattractive losers, and said losers need only make a few basic, commonsense changes to their loser-ish lifestyles to keep the relationship afloat.
She's Out of My League, which is not an Apatow comedy, but clearly wants to be, at least cops to its skewed gender politics upfront. When Molly (Alice Eve), "a ten" on the beauty scale, asks wimpy, wiry Kirk (Jay Baruchel), "a five," out on a date, Kirk and his three friends spend an inordinate amount of time analyzing how this could possibly have happened. "The universe is out of balance," suggests one.
Baruchel and Eve are likeable actors and have surprisingly effective chemistry together, and their charm keeps She's Out of My League afloat even it's a tad hard to sympathize with Kirk's constant, neurotic worrying about how he might screw up this fine situation he has found himself in. There's also the matter of the casually sexist depiction of Kirk's petty, bitchy ex-girlfriend (Lindsay Sloane), who is so intimidated by Molly's beauty that she changes into an outrageously tight, cleavage-bearing dress and whispers none-too-subtly to her current boyfriend, "I'm not wearing any underwear."
It's sort of funny, yet somehow not funny enough to distract from thinking of how low her self-esteem must be. You laugh and then feel guilty for laughing. If I sound like I'm overreacting, consider that the film ends with Kirk's ex turned into a full-fledged shrew, chasing him through an airport before finally being punched and thrown into a display.
Still, this is a notch above most recent comedies, which really isn't saying much, but it does have some big laughs. I like that director Jim Field Smith and writers Sean Anders and John Morris are more interested in comedy that derives from awkward, plausible human behaviour instead of outlandish slapstick, like when Kirk's brother does a lame Chris Tucker impersonation and then, barely audible in the background, we hear, "Mom, I showed him the Chris Tucker!" Or when Kirk confides to his ex that he's been "rawdoggin' some randoms," it's funny because everything about that phrase clashes with Kirk's very being, and judging by the pathetic look on his face, he knows it.
Oh, and journalistic integrity forces me to report that I also laughed very hard at the scene in which Kirk shaves his pubic hair. I apologize. (Paramount)