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Ever since The 40-Year Old Virgin made Judd Apatow a success, rather than the niche wunderkind those ten lonely souls watching “Freaks and Geeks” before it got cancelled viewed him as, copycats around Hollywood have been running rampant. Some attempts have been better than others, especially when his frequent collaborators are involved. But the new film, She’s Out of My League, kind of crept up on me. I had been hearing rumblings about the movie, yet never got that bug to actively check out a trailer or any articles written up on what it actually involved. Although it is definitely marketed as in the fraternity of Apatow, the cast is made up of mostly newcomers besides its star Jay Baruchel. He is a guy that has excelled in bit parts for a lot of successful comedic endeavors, so the question became not if the film would rise above expectations, but whether Jay could carry it on his back. Honestly, I have to give the young Canuck credit because he nails this role to perfection. Unfortunately the film, while funny, never figured out if it wanted to be a rom-com date flick or a raunchily obscene frat guy’s night out.

Despite the bi-polar nature, I have to say that parts did successfully maneuver through both genre types. Perhaps it works more from the fact Baruchel is such an endearing and affable character in the middle of everything than an intelligent script, but pulling out laughs is success nonetheless. By trying to appeal to both sexes, you do begin to see through the façade into how monotonous the true structure is—namely boys being boys, followed by good guy getting the perfect girl, followed by a cruder version of boys being boys, to kindhearted beauty falling for the safe regular guy, and so on and so on, with the crude parts getting more R-rated and the romance moments more saccharine. Every once in a while the two cancel each other out, letting the audience take a breath and start believing in the characters, everything seeming to align until you’re snapped out of it with a curse word or low-brow joke. Heavily reliant on gimmicky dialogue and two-dimensional stereotypes for supporting roles, the mediocrity on the fringes does hurt the film as a whole, but also makes the central relationship stronger in comparison.

At first, I thought Alice Eve’s Molly to be a bit obnoxious in her cheery disposition, almost trying too hard to be compassionate and understanding when initial impressions of a ‘10’, as the film bills her, would be more uppity and bitchy. The girl is a looker, no doubt—I can’t help mention her somewhat large teeth, though, but that’s probably just me needing to see a defect, much like our ladies’ man Kirk—and as the movie progresses, Eve’s acting appears more fleshed out than the surface work at the start. She is the perfect counter to Baruchel’s Kirk, a ‘5’ because of his Neon deducting a point, who is absolute awkward incarnate. What makes Jay so great in this role is his ability to be insecure and uncoordinated while also shining with moments of sincere humor and humanity. One of the best lines is his explanation to T.J. Miller’s Stainer on why he was so natural with her at the hockey game, but so nervous anticipating the second date. He allowed his inhibitions to disappear because he thought the evening was platonic; only when he discovered the girl of his dreams was interested in him did the old lack of self-esteem kick in. And he goes back and forth between the two psychological tropes seamlessly.

A big part of his insecurities comes from the family he is given by the filmmakers. Here is the most blatant example of lazy writing, going for the joke first with story strength way behind. I’ll admit that the dynamic between Kirk, his ex Marnie, played by Lindsay Sloane, and her new boyfriend in Hayes MacArthur’s Ron is humorous in its absurdity, yet it adds nothing to the film but cheap laughs. Even the unpolished, boarish brother portrayed by Kyle Bornheimer is little more than a conduit for abrasive attitude that explains Baruchel’s familial embarrassment and contrasts the ‘old-fashioned’ nature of Molly’s parents. All family serves solely as a crutch, giving the leads something to overcome as well as something to submit to and drive each other away.

The friend factor does the same, but in more acceptable fashion because they are the ones close to Kirk and Molly. I liked Krysten Ritter’s Patty for the unfiltered bitchiness and the genuine laughter in scenes like when Baruchel admits why he was so weird meeting Molly’s parents. And Miller rises above his obnoxiousness while Nate Torrence’s Devon becomes more true friend—you’ll understand when you see it—than just straight-edged, married tag-along. I even enjoyed seeing Geoff Stults play the jerk, although only because he is the ‘other guy’ not because his character actually is, being in contrast to his role in “October Road”—the nice-guy jock that goes for the ‘5’ himself.

Despite the faults, though, I did have fun with She’s Out of My League. Definitely more subtle laughter that comes in staccato rather than long-winded belly laughs, the moments that feel real and relatable are memorable, especially the whole message about loving yourself so you can have the confidence to love another. Not without scenes that will stick with you for their comedic value—a Hall and Oates cover band; Devon’s old-school barbershop moves; and the running Aladdin quotes—the thing that stuck with me most was how likable Baruchel’s Kirk stayed throughout. Even when he was in the wrong and completely irredeemable, you can understand where he is coming from and still hope he will somehow end up with the girl. If I were to use the film’s own rating system, I’d probably say the premise and script deserve maybe a ‘4’, add a point for the memories of walking the same streets of Pittsburgh just a few months ago myself, (love the Primanti Brothers in the background), and another for Baruchel himself, and I think you’ll have my final score.

She’s Out of My League 6/10

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photography:
[1] Kirk (Jay Baruchel) works as a TSA agent alongside his co-workers / former high school buddies – Stainer (T.J. Miller), Devon (Nate Torrence) and Jack (Mike Vogel), in the DreamWorks Pictures comedy “She’s Out of My League,” a Paramount Pictures release.
[2] Alice Eve stars as Molly in the DreamWorks Pictures comedy “She’s Out of My League,” a Paramount Pictures release.

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