Yet More Dorky Guy Meets Perfect Girl in 'She’s Out of My League'

She’s Out of My League is clearly working with a tired premise, but a comically neurotic performance by Jay Baruchel and a script with a couple of heavy laughs keep it from being wholly lightweight.

She’s Out of My League

Director: Jim Field Smith
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Alice Eve, Krysten Ritter, T.J. Miller, Nate Torrence, Mike Vogel
Distributor: Dreamworks
US Release Date: 2010-06-22

Haven’t there been enough American comedies where a dorky guy meets a “perfect” girl and then romance and comedy ensue? According to She’s Out of My League, which states the premise in its own title, the answer is no. Whether it’s There’s Something About Mary, the American Pie trilogy, or the recent Apatow flicks, the identification that young men have with this type of fantasy narrative guarantees that they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. While She’s Out of My League is clearly working with a tired premise, thanks to a comically neurotic performance by Jay Baruchel and a script with a couple of heavy laughs, it’s kept from being wholly lightweight.

As a first feature film by director Jim Field Smith, there’s a fresh chemistry to the film that probably couldn’t have existed had it been produced by the usual romantic comedy suspects that tend to populate these films. Supporting actors T.J. Miller and Mike Vogel had both starred together in J.J. Abrams’s Cloverfield together, which helps the male friendships be more believable. Co-writers Sean Anders and John Morris both worked on this year’s Hot Tub Time Machine, which featured rapid fire humor and hilariously crass moments as well, albeit with a script that gave greater room to experiment. These prior collaborations, along with a cast of lesser known actors, give the film a more natural feel.

The average Joe here is Kirk Kettner (Baruchel), a Pittsburgh TSA officer with low self-esteem and a lack of ambition. When he’s not trying to get back with his ex-girlfriend Marnie (Lindsay Sloane) who walks all over him and has a better relationship with his quirky family than he does, he’s hanging out with his three close male friends who also work at the airport. There’s Stainer (T.J. Miller), the loudmouth of the group, Devon (Nate Torrence), the married and prudish one, and Jack (Mike Vogel), the most experienced with women. This core guy group is a dynamic we’ve seen in various other films, but these guys are often more caricature than character, which makes it hard to identify with anyone but Kirk.

After leaving her phone at the airport, the beautiful and successful event planner Molly McCleish (Alice Eve) arranges to meet with Kirk after he picks up her phone. Following a series of meetings and interactions, Kirk and Alice develop a relationship. Kirk suffers anxiety over his poor self-esteem as his friends insist that he is a '5' and that Alice is a '10', and the five-point difference would be impossible to maintain. Alice’s friend Patty (Krysten Ritter) insists that because her last boyfriend had mistreated her, Alice is playing it too safe by settling on Kirk simply because he is too weak to hurt her. The resulting tension causes the two to push and pull in a series of funny and at times, touching scenes.

You would be surprised by how much of the rest of the plot you could guess, and that is the biggest problem with the film. While most can relate to the storybook interactions between Kirk and Molly, the entire plot is incredibly predictable to the point of frustration. There are little chances taken, and this lightness brings the film dangerously close to forgettable. Baruchel playing Kirk awkward enough but not too ridiculously is the undeniable highlight of the film, and his busy 2010 (including How to Train Your Dragon and the upcoming The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) is well-deserved after years bouncing around.

While not a breakthrough performance for Alice Eve, she does fine with what her boring character is given to work with, especially in later scenes when things get difficult between the couple. Miller and Torrence deliver the funniest lines from a script that is better than typical, and scenes involving Kirk’s family are a pleasingly dysfunctional look at middle-class America.

The DVD release of She’s Out of My League includes a variety of features that slightly enhance the film. The blooper reel is worth a laugh or two, while the deleted scenes are decent but obviously cut for slowing down the pace. For insight into the production, there’s a commentary track by director Jim Field Smith. An exclusive bonus feature for the set is Devon’s Dating Show, a segment with the characters Devon and Dylan as they give a guide to dating for guys. Torrence is great again as the mild-mannered Devon, but the banter between the two is hit and miss. These are good treats, but a production featurette and interviews with the cast would have been nice.

What keeps She’s Out of My League from losing you is its heart, which may not make up for a predictable narrative or a lack of fleshed-out characters, but does make for a fun and enjoyable romantic comedy. The message may be obvious and quite possibly even an afterthought, but at least it is earnest where other similar films are heavy-handed.


The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.