She’s Out of My League

Directed by Jim Field Smith

Starring Jay Baruchel, Alice Eve, T.J. Miller, Mike Vigel, Nate Torrence, Krysten Ritter, Geoff Stults, Lindsay Sloane

Jay Baruchel has been solid in several projects for the last few years.  After barely reaching the public consciousness  in the very short-lived Judd Apatow series “Undeclared,” his star steadily grew in prominence with each new endeavor.  He finally struck a solid one-two punch as a supporting player in Knocked Up and Tropic Thunder.  Hollywood noticed, and gave him, She’s Out of My League, which plays quite well as a kinder, gentler version of Knocked Up.

Not the four horsemen, but not bad.

Baruchel portrays Kirk Kettner, who is a loveable loser whose dream is to get back with his not so hot girlfriend, who is practically adopted by his parents and his brother along with her new boyfriend.  If this sounds preposterous, it seemed that way to me, too.  Baruchel plays it so even-keeled, it comes across as passable.  Kirk has a well-rounded cast of friends, too.  A fat, loveable, but stable married one, a boorish, loveable, wild one, and a handsome, loveable and confident one.  The key here, is loveable.  None of these guys are here to make Kirk look bad.  In the Age of Apatow, this is at once refreshing and safe.  Refreshing because it is in retrospect, quite easy to take shots at your “friends” in a comedy, and refreshing because you can get the feeling that there is friendship there, not just trying to wait for the next punchline.

That is not to say that there is not plenty of self-effacing humor, here.  His friends, Stainer and, in particular, Devon, seem like ready-made jokes.  Stainer has the Seth Rogen part of the Bohemian with a heart of gold.  Devon, the one guy who is married, has this wavering attempt at confidence, ready to bail on his principles in a moment’s notice.  In total, the friends have to be the key in a movie like this.  The challenge in modern comedy is to portray authentic relationships in a shocking way.  Director Smith has the authentic part handled, and he sacrifices the shock value to do so.  If the result is a little less funny, so be it.  It is interesting to watch.

Just hangin' around, waiting for the flight to Branson.

The family stuff pushes the limit of believability.  It seems just to stack the deck of pathetic piling on.  As a result, the humor is strained.  Baruchel handles the limits with the amount of attention it deserves.  He acts like he likes being around his family as much as I do, which is not much.  The Bransom vacation bit works, in effect, to call out how amazing it is that people like Dave Coulier continue their stalled careers in this Dead End Disneyland.

Would you believe she's not wearing underwear?

As the object of affection, Alice Eve as Molly is portrayed affectionately and  honestly.  The script intends to make her unreal, yet her acting skill makes her approachable, to the point that you can actually believe that she and Baruchel could hit it off.  I enjoyed the scenes they shared that avoided faux crises to the point that I could just watch them on a normal date with friends.  If all of this seems just a bit boring, compared to the comedy you might want to see in a movie of this nature, it has to be seen to be believed.

Baruchel navigates the good material and the bad with the same grace.  This makes the movie better than the script would have it.  The ex-boyfriend and ex-girlfriend are both lame.  Kirk and Molly’s first make out scene was like something out of Porky’s.  The afore-mentioned faux drama is extremely forced.  The end chase scene feels claustrophobic and clunky.  But this is mostly negated by the performances of Baruchel, Eve and the Kirk’s 3 amigos.  Their natural (for the most part, aside from the scene leading to “the shave”) along with that of Molly’s friends, add a levity to the weak plot that makes the movie fun.  The scenes where these two young lovebirds just simply enjoy each other’s company is worth the watch.

(*** out of *****)

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