Romantic comedies tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to the movie world. They’re not exactly the trashy romance novels of the literary world but they rarely get the same kind of real attention that other films get. Like a lot of other kinds of films, they have a certain structure that most adhere to and that turns away a lot of viewers, or at least a lot of men, who want something different out of these kinds of films. What’s somewhat uncommon in this particular genre of film is to get an R rated as when they do go that route they tend to be more crude or overly sexual which takes away from the kind of feel good romance that a lot of the audience looks for.
She’s Out Of My League, clocking in at 104 minutes, feels like it’s found a decent balance between being PG-13 and R with how it presents itself. The film revolves around twenty-something Kirk Ketter, played by Jay Baruchel, who has found his life in something of a holding pattern for the last couple of years. Ever since his girlfriend Marnie, played by Lindsay Sloane, said they should see other people he’s been carrying the torch for her. Now two years after that day he’s finally manning up and telling her that he wants to get back with her. The problem being that when he does this, Marnie’s hunky but dull as dishwater boyfriend Ron is standing right there. While Marnie has moved on, Kirk most certainly has not.
His professional life is much the same way though that’s more about his limitations. While he’d love to be a pilot of any stripe, he hasn’t really pursued that career. Instead, through a friend, he’s ended up working as a TSA agent at the Pittsburgh airport. It’s there that he has a group of friends that are sweet and quirky as well as crude. Stainer has the quasi-slacker feel going as he’s angsting about his own relationship issues from the past as he moonlights in a Hall & Oates cover band, Jack is your fairly studly baggage handler who has little to say until the right time and Devon is the very sweet and slightly odd rental rep who views the world as though it’s a Disney movie. His quotes and romantic way of looking at the world is one of the more amusing parts of the film, especially as he’s the only one of them that’s actually in a relationship and married.
Everything changes for Kirk when the drop dead gorgeous Molly McCall comes through the airport on an overnight trip to New York City and she forgets her phone in the security check bin. Kirk comes to the rescue with it and returns it the next night at an art museum event that she had worked on for the company that she and her friend Patty operate. Coming off a relationship that ended badly herself somewhat recently, Molly decides to change her approach to dating and takes an interest in Kirk. Kirk is pretty oblivious to all of this because Kirk is, as his friends say, a five on a scale of one to ten while Molly is most definitely a ten. How can someone like her be interested in him? When they end up on something of a double date with friends of theirs, he’s pretty sure that Molly is setting him up with Patty only to discover that he’s there with Molly.
Once the relationship gets underway, it falls into the usual kind of material you see in films of this nature. The first tentative moments when he realizes that they’re dating and he tries to not be self conscious about it to the montages of them going out around the town, laughing and talking. It’s all pretty predictable in that regard. Where it has fun is when it comes to the friends and the way the Kirk and Molly interact with each other. While Kirk is as they say a five, they don’t make him a dork or geeky or nerdy. He’s just not typical “handsome” though he has some moments where he looks really good and he’s in a job that doesn’t allow for him to stand out much. The attraction between the two comes across well, especially with Kirk working his sense of humor on her. The friends are a lot of fun as they can’t believe what’s going on though Devon is completely supportive of him in his Disney-ish way which adds some innocent and quirky charm to all of it.
The area where the film works the hardest and feels the most forced is when it comes to the families of the two leads. Kirk’s family is definitely out there with the abusive older brother who is engaged to a relatively attractive woman who he’s gotten pregnant. His parents are non-entities for the most part though his mother, played by Debra Jo Rupp, who is the only one that’s really supportive of him though she tweaks him a bit. What makes Kirk’s family more awkward is that when he and Marnie split, Marnie (and now Ron) became members of his family so they’re always there and even treated better than Kirk is most of the time. Molly’s family isn’t on screen all that much but they have more of that well off elder couple feeling that most definitely does not approve of Kirk since he makes a poor first impression on them. But what else can you expect when minutes beforehand Molly was straddling him pretty hard and he had a little accident. You don’t exactly want to get up and shake hands at that point.
Where She’s Out Of My League managed to work well is in how the leads deal with their prior relationships. Molly is plainly done with her ex, Cam, who shows up a few times and tries to figure out how to get back together with her. He even tries to get Kirk to help since he thinks Kirk is her new gay friend. There’s less drama going on with this side of it than with Marnie trying to get Kirk back after seeing him with Molly. She runs with the idea that if someone as drop dead gorgeous as Molly sees something in him then she may have made a serious mistake here. Because of Kirk’s uncertain feelings toward Molly and his past history with Marnie, Marnie’s attempts to get him back are fun to watch since there’s some real potential there. Bad potential, but potential nonetheless.
The crux of the film rests on the idea of how we view ourselves and how that perception affects our relationships with others. Kirk is so roundly convinced that he’s a five by his friends and parents that he can’t help but believe that and to go with the system that you can’t date more than two points outside your rank. Molly on the other hand is dealing with friends who think she’s just slumming and going for guys that are safe, that won’t hurt her, after having Cam cheat on her. Both of these are decent ideas to work with and they’re both very understandable considering where they’ve come from. At the same time, you want to smack Kirk around sometimes because he’s with someone who has a serious interest in him regardless of his looks or her looks. The connection the two have comes across very well on screen, both in the romantic sense and on the comedy side. Molly gives it pretty good, especially when she visits Kirk’s family for the first time and basically takes control of everything and has all of them under her thumb with a smile.
She’s Out Of My League proved to be a surprisingly funny romantic comedy. There are forced moments here and there but it was a movie that felt like it was between a PG-13 and R rating. It’s crude in a number of areas and it likely got bumped up to an R partially because of the very hilarious crotch shaving scene between Kirk and Devon. The cast has a good feel to it as they fit their characters well and have fun with it. It does adhere to a typical romcom structure so you can plot it out easily enough, but the actors sell it well and the mixture of humor, sweetness and sexuality ties it together just right. Unlike a lot of romantic comedies, there aren’t any serious turn off your brain moments and just accept what you see events here and that helps a lot. She’s Out Of My League is a whole lot of fun and definitely a good date movie that won’t bore a guy to tears. If anything, it’ll let him know his date has a good sense of humor that might up their compatibility.