The ‘hook’ of the film is that Kirk is not considered to be in the same league as Molly (mostly by Kirk’s friends) but they begin dating regardless. The rest of the film plays out as a reasonably standard romantic comedy but with a few ‘gross-out comedy’ moments. It constantly refers back though to this premise that Molly is out of Kirk’s league.
The first thing that struck me when the two characters were introduced was, why is she out of his league? He seems like a nice guy and she seems somewhat self absorbed, but it is clear that the filmmakers want you to be more focused on their looks alone as Kirk’s friends are and judge their compatibility based purely on this. The fact that this is not a legitimate or particularly nice way of determining whether people are compatible is at the heart of the film and it ultimately addresses this with a somewhat satisfying but unbelievably obvious and incredibly twee final scene.
The overriding message in the film is actually a pretty honourable one and the point the writers seem to be making is one worth making, especially in our current celebrity obsessed, superficial culture. It is a shame that She’s Out of My League is such a disappointing film though, as I can’t fault the writer’s attempts to say something with the film (even if the message is a little lightweight) and say it to an audience who may well need to hear it.
Unfortunately She’s Out of My League is derivative and uninspired, mostly in the editing and direction but also in elements of the script. Perhaps the biggest issue with the film is the weight of similar work that has come previously that hangs over it throughout. One person’s film and television work in particular adds to this heavy weight, Judd Apatow. Aside from tonal similarities to the work of Apatow, there are direct similarities in characters and scenes to The 40 Year Old Virgin and the casting of Baruchel, who played a very similar lead character in Apatow’s series Undeclared, further adds to the deja vu. The scene in She’s Out of My League where Kirk’s friend Devon shaves Kirk’s pubic hair, for instance, brings to mind a similar scene in The 40 Year Old Virgin where Steve Carrell’s character has his chest waxed. The makers of She’s Out of My League clearly attempt to up the ante with this scene but unfortunately it is not particularly funny and feels very forced. Although I am not a huge fan of Apatow’s films (I do love his series Freaks and Geeks though) they do tend to have a standard of quality that sets them apart from similar fare and this quality is lacking in She’s Out of My League.
Apatow is not the only point of reference for the film though. The character of Kirk’s friend Stainer brings to mind the character of Stifler from the American Pie films and the closeness of their names makes this similarity seem even more unimaginative. Stainer appears to be an effort to take Seth Rogen’s character from The 40 Year Old Virgin and mix it with a bit of Stifler resulting in a pretty unimaginative and uninteresting supporting character.
Stainer is also not the only one note character in She’s Out of My League, the film is full of them and these one dimensional cartoon characters also aren’t particularly funny. There are Kirk’s friends and family, his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend, Molly’s ex-boyfriend and Molly’s parents. I’m struggling to remember the character names of any of the supporting cast as they are just memorable for their one, generally unfunny, character trait.
Probably the only one who stands out is Molly’s friend Patty, played by Krysten Ritter. The character of Patty is also quite one dimensional but Ritter plays it very well, bringing something more to the simplistic role, and her character almost managed to get a laugh out of me on a couple of occasions. Ritter can probably do a lot better though. She did fantastic work in Breaking Bad and I think she can exhibit much more depth than she is allowed to here with the material she has to work with.
Aside from the unimaginative writing and weak characterisation, the film’s direction and editing really let it down too. In lieu of complex and crafted writing, when the audience is expected to feel something or understand the character’s emotions the film relies on the most obvious and heavy handed techniques. One of the most irritating is the reliance on montages. So many times during the film there is a loud blast of music and we see an expositional montage. Think of the terrible montage in Chasing Amy but even more obnoxious and clumsly.
Overall She’s Out of My League is a failure but it is a well meaning and strangely sweet failure. Everyone involved appeared to have good intentions but the film is ultimately a let down. If you’re expectations are low She’s Out of My League might actually surprise you with its central message and sweet intentions but otherwise you will most probably find it dissapointing.
The film opens in UK cinemas on June the 4th.