“She’s Out of My League,” the new romantic comedy starring Jay Baruchel as a 5 dating a 10, exists in a fictional movie universe where men lose the ability to speak in the presence of a beautiful woman and airport security guards are friendly and helpful.
Baruchel, a Canadian actor best known for his roles in “Tropic Thunder” and “Knocked Up,” plays Kirk, a moodle—that’s a man poodle—who lets women walk all over him. Single for two years, he still pines for his ex-girlfriend even though she has long since moved on. When Molly (Alice Eve), a pretty blonde party planner, leaves her i-phone at his security check point she is thoroughly charmed when he goes out of his way to return it and despite their differences they begin seeing one another. He’s not the kind of guy she usually ends up with, but she responds to his sense of humor and honesty, until his insecurities drive a wedge between them.
The structure of “She’s Out of My League” is pure rom com formula. Unlikely couple meets, falls in love, has conflict, cut to happily ever after. It’s Lyle Lovett and Julia Roberts or King Kong and Naomi Watts, only without the happily ever after part. The rom com recipe only really cooks, however, when the cast is interesting and luckily “She’s Out of My League” has charm to burn.
Alice Eve is genetically blessed enough to play the traditional blonde knock out Molly, but brings more to the role than curves and flowing hair. She takes a character that could have been smug and makes her likeable; bringing a sweetness that keeps the audience on side even when her relationship with Kirk gets rocky. If Amy Adams, normally a very likeable actress, had half the charm Eve oozes here then maybe her rom com, “Leap Year” from earlier this winter, wouldn’t have been such a disaster.
Most of the heavy lifting, however, is left to unlikely leading man Baruchel. Baruchel, an Ottawa native, has been lurking around the edges of Hollywood success for the last few years. Memorable roles in big films like “Million Dollar Baby” and some frat pack comedies and lead roles in some cool Canadian films (like the upcoming “The Trotsky”) have prepped him for his first lead in a studio picture. His low key charm and deadpan wit carry every scene he’s in—and he’s in almost every frame if the film. He’s believable as slacker Kirk, sweet Kirk and boyfriend Kirk.
Not that “She’s Out of My League” is all sweetness and light though. There are some crude jokes from the Apatow school of bathroom humor, some silly “guy” talk about relationships and a climax that goes on a bit too long, but any movie that uses Branson, Missouri as a metaphor for mediocrity and twists the rom com formula in such sweet ways is worth a look.