“She’s Out of My League” is that rare modern screen comedy that is better than the trailers make it appear. What threatened to be yet another routine exercise in raunchiness instead turns out to be a sweet, charming, hilariously funny love story that could emerge as a sleeper hit.
That’s not to say the film doesn’t traffic in the sort of vulgarity that plays so well these days, most notably with an “American Pie”-style scene depicting a comically tender example of man-on-man testicle grooming. But it’ thankfully not overplayed, and for the most part Sean Anders and John Morris’ screenplay is smarter than that.
The story centers on twentysomething Kirk (Jay Baruchel), who dreams of being a pilot but instead is a low-level security agent at the Pittsburgh airport. Kirk’s life changes dramatically when he meets Molly (Alice Eve), an event planner who accidentally leaves her phone behind at security and who gratefully invites Kirk to one of her parties when he returns it.
He’s instantly smitten, but as his friends not so helpfully point out, he’s merely a “five” while she’s definitely a “hard 10.” For a while, he manages to keep his perspective, joining Molly and her acerbic business partner, Patty (Krysten Ritter), for platonic outings like a hockey game. But when it becomes apparent that Molly indeed has romance on her mind, his innate insecurities threaten to derail the relationship.
Although much of the humor, like Kirk’s endlessly teasing interactions with his co-workers (amusingly played by T.J. Miller, Nate Torrence and Mike Vogel), is predictable, most of it works nonetheless. A subplot involving a boorish ex-girlfriend (Lindsay Sloane) who becomes insanely jealous is less successful, but it doesn’t detract too much from the overall effect.
The unlikely love story is depicted in surprisingly credible fashion. It’s easy to see why Molly might become interested in the sweet and funny Kirk, especially after it’s revealed that she has been burned in her relationships with guys at her own hotness level. The problems that arise between the two as a result of their disparate self-images are all too believable as well.
Both lead performers deliver breakout performances. The quirky Baruchel makes geekiness hugely appealing, consistently scoring big laughs with his low-key line readings and deadpan reactions. The gorgeous Eve (betraying no trace of her British origins) infuses her characterization with a sweetness and intelligence that makes Molly far more likable than she might have been.
The film, skillfully directed by Jim Field Smith in his feature debut, founders a bit with an overly farcical climax involving a frenzied chase through the airport. But for the most part, “She’s Out of My League” is a winning comedy that should prove inspirational to “fives” everywhere.
Opens Friday, March 12 (Paramount)
Production: DreamWorks SKG, Mosaic Media Group
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Alice Eve, T.J. Miller, Mike Vogel, Nate Torrence, Krysten Ritter, Geoff Stults, Lindsay Sloane
Director: Jim Field Smith
Screenwriters: Sean Anders, John Morris
Producers: Jimmy Miller, David Householter
Executive producer: George Gatins
Director of photography: Jim Denault
Editor: Dan Schalk
Production designer: Clayton Hartley
Costume designer: Molly Maginnis
Music: Michael Andrews
Rated R, 105 minutes