I think I’m doing a commendable effort at linking my reviews of films currently showing at the theatre. The last two have shared the word “dragon” in the title (but, happily, no other similarities), and this movie connects to How to Train Your Dragon by sharing two actors: Jay Baruchel and TJ Mills. Last time I physically saw Baruchel in a movie, he was the shifty heartthrob in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Now, apparently he’s the gangly and awkward one. In She’s Out of My League, Baruchel is Kirk, a slightly useless guy in his late twenties who works at the airport and has a group of equally useless friends who all seem to do nothing at work but sit in the transit lounge and talk about girls. Mills is one of those friends, a bit of a bastard, very sweary, vaguely appealing in an abrasive kind of way. There’s also the handsome friend, who does nothing but stand and look handsome, and the romantic friend, who likens everything to a Disney movie. In a way, they appear to be mimicking the friendship group from (500) Days of Summer, though bereft of a smartass little sister played by Chloe Moretz or any other friend who actually knows what they’re talking about.
Kirk is trying pathetically to win back the heart of Marnie, the fairly horrible ex-girlfriend who—along with her new boyfriend—still hangs out with Kirk’s family and is seemingly preferred by them as well. His friends tell him to stop, but there’s no other girls on his horizon until gorgeous event planner Molly, played by the beautiful Alice Eve, accidentally leaves her phone behind at the airport. Kirk finds it, and to thank him, she takes him out to dinner. Despite the misgivings of his pals and Molly’s caustic friend Patty, their relationship flourishes. Kind of.
Where this movie falls flat is that their relationship never feels real. They do have a mild amount of chemistry and are separately pretty affable, but every conversation Kirk and Molly have is awkward, strained and painful to watch. The camera pans out on these stilted discussions, plays a happy tune and suddenly we see them laughing and joking. The prerequisite relationship montage shows them getting along fine, but the audience is not really privy to why they get along. Just like their friends, concerned about the difference in their ratings—Molly being a “hard” 10, Kirk wallowing around the five mark—you won’t be convinced their relationship will work out either. So when the inevitable scene comes where their preconceptions of the romance outweigh what they feel, it is the least surprising thing and you aren’t too concerned if they both go off and lead full happy lives without each other. But it’s a rom-com, so of course it doesn’t end there.
On the upside, a lot of scenes are hilarious—Kirk’s ball-shaving scene, which you may have seen in the trailer, is one; another is when he gives his family what-for as they sit in a plane waiting to head off on vacation. It also ventures into gross-out comedy with Kirk a little too excited just before he meets Molly’s staid parents. Much of the comedy is derived from that pained, uncomfortable Meet-The-Parentsesque humour, which is my own personal bugbear. Don’t we get enough in reality? Do we need to watch others suffer too? (Two Parents sequels say yes, but I say no.) The soundtrack to She’s Out of My League is pretty great, with tunes from the likes of The Fratellis and sex-in-tight-pants Pop Levi. Overall, the movie is no hard ten of a hot blonde made entirely of friendly, but the five of a guy with no self-esteem who listens to his friends over his own feelings.