Thursday, April 8, 2010

"She's Out of My League" Review

We both know "She's Out of My League" is a lame duck. The evidence is irrefutable based on the trailer alone. On the dystopian plane of teenage sex comedies, the product falls squarely in the hellacious center, with every shopworn semen gag and punch-out character archetype hitting their tired romcom marks in predictable sequence. It's bad. But there's one thing the movie has going for it that salvages the experience and carries it halfway to 'guilty pleasure' territory—star Jay Baruchel.

He almost seems to have teleported into "She's Out of My League" from some better film, with an authentically charming take on its prototypical loser protagonist, Kirk. In the interest of full disclosure, I admit I've had a thing for Baruchel ever since seeing him alongside the comedic heavyweights in "Tropic Thunder" two years ago, and here he somehow manages to sell a film otherwise inundated with dislikable and unfunny characters. He brings an accessibility to the role that made following him breezily palatable, even when by every other conceivable measure, I should have been apathetic and frustrated.

Kirk's friends are the worst offenders. They're not real people. We're talking about characters like "Stainer" (Stifler, anyone?), the arrogant, romantically successful one who turns out not to be all that romantically successful; Devon, a stocky married bloke whose single point of reference seems to be the work of Walt Disney; and last and least interestingly, Alice Eve as the "hard 10" love interest, Molly. The character is sold to the audience on her looks alone, presumably because there's nothing else remotely interesting about her. She's the personification of a plot device, and "She's Out of My League" wears its on its sleeve.

At least in the grand gross-out tradition, the film follows through on a few comedic premises that risk making the audience uncomfortable, which is more than I can say for something like "Hot Tub Time Machine," which has vulgarity to spare but wants too badly to be cool to even let its characters come off as situationally homosexual. A scene in "League" has Devon shaving Kirk's genitals in preparation for a hot date with Molly, which actually prompted a pick-up truck in the front row of the drive-in to turn the ignition and turn tail. In truth, the scene isn't particularly funny, but I do give it credit for taking that risk.

Or there's the climax of the film, which also momentarily jukes convention, making for one of the more legitimately amusing scenes. Beforehand, Kirk and Molly have had a falling out that leads him and his bitchy ex to reunite for a family vacation. On the plane, Kirk makes the obligatory eleventh hour decision to abandon the trip and his unsupportive family in a profanity-laced tirade. He turns to walk off—But it's too late. He quietly retakes his seat.

It's rare moments like those, along with the consistently relatable performance by Jay Baruchel, that kept "She's Out of My League" from getting on my nerves, even over the extent of the slightly bloated running time. It's a played story brimming with bad characters, but I make no apology for having had a decent time with it anyway.

The evidence is irrefutable, though on second thought, halfway to guilty pleasure ain't bad either.


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