When I was at school, I had a rather unhealthy, yet not entirely creepy obsession with one girl, whom, by all accounts, had precisely no idea that I even existed. She swooned in social circles way above mine. The boys she liked were all older, had Vauxhall Corsas and rubbish whispy beards and all I had was a remarkable collection of facial barnacles, an unfashionable obsession with heavy metal (Iron Maiden, in particular) and a perennial priapic bump in the front of my trousers.
The world existed happily thus, as it should, with everything and everyone in their assigned caste, until one day an unexpected development struck to irreparably upset the status quo: I looked over and saw her, the girl of my then dreams, walking towards me.
I looked behind me to see if anyone there was a more likely recipient of her attention, but behind there was nought but solid wall, so it must be meshe was after. But why? Her expression gave no impression of resentment or impending abuse, so what the Bruce Dickinson did she want with me? I began to tremble like the proverbial pooing dog.
I can remember, as if yesterday, her remarkable ability to turn every word my brain sent to my mouth into a gallon of gooey saliva, and I also recall noticing with pathetic joy that she was even more beautiful close up, skin so perfect, eyes crystalline azure. And she said, through those big red lips, “I’ve got two tickets to Iron Maiden, baby…”
Wait a minute. That’s a lie isn’t it? Yep, that’s definitely a lie. That’s Teenage Dirtbag, that is. It’s not a real memory at all. And the reason this isn’t a real memory is that the above scenario, in reality, has never happened to anyone, ever, nor will it for the rest of time.
The petty and strict social doctrine of secondary/high school, by its very nature, prevents the underdog’s victory, because kids are fickle and more than anything crave peer approval, and herein lies the main problem with the vast majority of romcoms with titles like She’s Out Of My League. This is one reason why films like Loser and She’s All That are rubbish. The other reason being they are just rubbish.
The slew of post-American Pie romantic comedies, many of which deal with some actually fairly attractive protagonist learning to accept themselves for who they are and, in turn, obtaining their dream squeeze, produced some very poor films. Yet, for every She’s All That or Loser, we eventually received a 40 Year Old Virgin or Adventureland.
Because it can be forgotten that, while not some people’s favourite genre, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind or High Fidelity are often cited in a person’s top 10 films, and while Eternal Sunshine isn’t that funny, and High Fidelity is a book, both films are brilliant and simply examples of the genre being done well.
So, if a good romantic film can make you laugh and blub like a hungry toddler, and a bad one can make you vomit like an overfed one, where does She’s Out of My League fit in to all this?
The title of She’s Out Of My League tells you all you need to know about its simple base premise, while simultaneously doing the film something of a disservice. Likeable Tropic Thunder star Jay Baruchel plays airport security agent Kirk, the unassuming everyman who, at the beginning of the story, finds his self esteem at such a low ebb he is attempting to get back together with his odious ex, played with bitter exuberance by Lindsay Sloane. After being shot down in flames, the circumstances of Kirk’s job lead him to Molly; seemingly, the perfect woman.
Kirk – you’ve guessed it – thinks she’s out of his league, and has the measure of his ineptitude quantified by his slacker group of peers, who rate him a five and her as a “hard ten” and, according to this system, it is impossible to jump more than two steps above your own rating ‘even on a good day’.
When Kirk discovers to his bewilderment that Molly does, in fact, like him, he obsesses over his own shortcomings and convinces himself he doesn’t stand a chance. But does he? Can Kirk accept the man he is as Molly has done and will they find love in the end?
The plot points from here to the end of the film can then be ticked off one by one to the inevitable conclusion as yawningly predictable movie cliché, but don’t mistake this as a suggestion the film should be avoided, as, while the story itself has as much originality as a double cheeseburger wrapped in a Primark t-shirt, the quickfire script and assured performances across the board succeed in lifting the film above the bilious snoozefest it could quite easily have been.
Kirk’s colleagues provide much of the comic relief, and each brings something positive and unique to the dynamic, with Nate Torrence as the married Disney-obsessed Devon stealing virtually every scene he’s in. The quipping Rogen-esque T.J. Miller and chiselled Cloverfield star Mike Vogel more than hold their own, and all are responsible for at least one genuine belly laugh (of which there are several) and the rest of the supporting cast also provide their fair share of chuckles. This is why the film, ultimately, works: it is very funny.
The casting is the film’s main strength, and all members appear to be having fun with their characters and the frequently coarse script. Because, make no mistake about it, there are F-bombs and dick/arse jokes aplenty, including several rather inventive and unsavoury euphemisms for the act of coitus itself and the genital appendages involved. This film can safely be grouped with those naughty Apatow comedies that get away with being crude because their heart is in the right place, and while not quite as sweet as The 40 Year Old Virgin, the sickly sentiments the film extols are wholesome enough to balance out all the lowbrow double bagging nastiness.
The direction and editing combine to make dialogue snappy without seeming false, creating adequate distraction from the alabaster-dull plot and the incongruous (but again predictable) soundtrack of pre-pubescent soft American rock.
Yet, the film fundamentally stands or falls on the chemistry between the leads, and Alice Eve (Trevor’s daughter, fact fans, and in a nice touch both of Alice Eve’s real life parents play her parents in the film) plays Molly with enough intelligence and vulnerability for us to buy the fact she would be at all interested in Kirk. He may be a safe option, but it is still a believable development, although her character’s apparent desirability does suggest that a man’s idea of a perfect woman is a rich blonde who likes hockey. Make of this what you will.
It’s definitely not perfect. Some of the setups for the gags require the suspension of disbelief, as some situations would simply never happen in reality and are sometimes jarringly included in order to produce a payoff, but the film milks these for laughs so it is forgivable. And while no-one’s saying jokes about semen are big or clever, this film proves, if nothing else, that they are funny.
So, while She’s Out Of My League is immeasurably predictable, a little too long and some of the gags don’t quite gel, there is more than enough here to make it worth a watch, and if you enjoyed Knocked Up or Forgetting Sarah Marshall you’ll be on familiar ground.
The storyline is rated at one or two, but the script and performances bring it up to a solid three. Not quite a hard five, but there’s still plenty to like here.
The disc comes with the requisite inclusion of some deleted scenes and a gag reel, but there are only five minutes’ worth of each. They are both entertaining enough, though, and the gag reel does offer insight into the flexible nature of the script, showing multiple takes with differing lines before director Jim Field Smith found the one he liked.
The film’s commentary is provided by Smith, who gives a sedate, but occasionally interesting account of the filming and editing process, but unless these are things that may interest you, there may be nothing of particular merit here. The inclusion of cast members in the commentary would have been welcome but, alas, it was not to be.
The only other extra included is the brief but entertaining ‘Devon’s Dating Show’, a skit with Nate Torrence and Kyle Bornheimer (who plays Kirk’s meat-headed brother, Dylan) appearing in character to give their differing ideas of dating advice. While short, it is nice to have something made solely for the DVD, and this is the best of the special features by some distance.
And, that’s it. It’s not exactly brimming with extras, even lacking the often lazily included TV spots, which is a shame, as films such as these do seem to find their natural home on DVD or Blu-ray.
Must try harder.
Film: Disc: She’s Out Of My League will be released on September 27 and can be pre-ordered from the Den Of Geek Store.