Jay Baruchel and Alice Eve, in 'She's Out of My League'

Dir. Jim Field Smith
(2010, R, 104 min)
★ ★

She’s Out of My League is a love story between two appealing leads in a film that made the mistake of hiring a supporting cast. No, that’s unfair to the actors, some of whom I’ve liked in other roles, including Krysten Ritter, from TV’s Breaking Bad and Veronica Mars, here doing bitchy-best-friend duty; and Kyle Bornheimer, who for some reason has become typecast as boorish jerks since his likable performance on the sitcom Worst Week. Even the actors I’m less familiar with it’s hard to fault; they’re shrill because that’s how their characters are written, and that’s how Jim Field Smith, who knows how to make things big and loud but not funny, directs them.

Jay Baruchel and Alice Eve are the stars, and they’re good stars. Baruchel — who was excellent as the straight man to an all-star cast of buffoons in Tropic Thunder — is lanky and mumbly, but conveys intelligence. As Kirk, a lowly airport security employee, he isn’t the kind of guy who usually gets the girl, but is more handsome than his friends, parents, brother, or ex-girlfriend give him credit for. Eve has the looks of a starlet, but the down-to-earth accessibility of the girl next door. She plays Molly, who meets him at a security checkpoint and loses her phone, which he finds. They’re an unlikely pairing, but a believable one. I wish they’d go off and find a nice independent movie to star in where they could have conversations instead of plot complications.

Everyone else in the film I could do without. The central joke is that Molly is too pretty to go for a guy like Kirk, so the film contains a lot of exaggerated scenes of characters looking astonished to see them together. This requires nearly everyone in the film to be gallingly mean to Kirk and/or lecherous to Molly, and they seem to be vulgar just for the sake of earning the film its R-rating, perhaps in an attempt to mimic Judd Apatow’s style of raunch-with-heart, but a generous helping of F-bombs and penis jokes do not an Apatow comedy make.

Virtually all the mistakes Kirk makes can be traced back to the advice of his “loved ones,” and I put that in quotes because, if nothing else, the film convinces us he should ditch his family and find better friends. Moreover, Baruchel seems too smart to play someone who would listen to such imbecilic counsel, but the romantic comedy bylaws require at least one gets-girl/loses-girl/gets-girl-back scenario — this film provides two! — so what’s a lovesick boy to do?

It all leads to a raucous climax in the airport, and boy does this scene feel strange in this day and age. In one instant, TSA agent Stainer (T.J. Miller) confiscates a man’s soft drink for being over the maximum allowed three fluid ounces, but then in the name of love makes a scene on a crowded airplane, rushes a woman past security, and orders his friend on the tarmac to stop the plane; the friend reveals a giant wrench and does, we’re left to imagine, something very bad to the aircraft as it leaves the gate, and I wonder what would have happened if it actually tried to take off. There’s even a joke about Stainer being sent to Guantanamo Bay. (A helpful side note: If your airport employs a man named Stainer to a security position, find another airport.) I couldn’t help but wonder, in this age of anxiety about the safety of air travel, how the other flyers at the airport feel about the foot chase through the terminal, or the violent commandeering of a vehicle. Earlier this year, a terminal in Newark airport was shut down for six hours after a single man breached security; the scene in the movie ends in hugs and kisses.

I know I shouldn’t be thinking about things like that during a film like this, but the mind wanders to curious places when it’s not preoccupied by laughing.

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