Saturday 5 June 2010

Mind the gap: "She's Out of My League"

The young lovers in Jim Field Smith's teen comedy She's Out of My League - Kirk (Jay Baruchel) and Molly (Alice Eve) - meet at an airport, where she's boarding a plane bound for New York, and he's among the army of security staff sorting shoes and belts at a checkpoint. Their relationship, and the chief problem they will sooner or later have to address, is established with admirable economy. He's a minion, a nice, grounded, unassuming sort prone to spilling coffee all over himself; she, on the other hand, is the very definition of a highflyer. He can't quite believe it when she declares her fondness for him - and neither can his laddish friends and deadbeat folks, both in their own way obstacles to the couple's future happiness.

Though the screenplay, by Sean Anders and John Morris, addresses the very real issue of low male self-esteem - the disparity young men sometimes see between themselves and the objects of their affection, or to translate into blokespeak: how to woo a ten when you're a six at best - She's Out of My League could easily qualify as another of American comedy's recent nerd fantasies. As with Cameron Diaz in There's Something About Mary (the ur-text of this recent wave), Molly proves unexpectedly fluent in sports, and indeed all the girls here either talk like guys ("Dude, go shit in your hand!") or behave in ways guys would like girls to behave: Eve proves a smash-hit at the Baruchel family gathering by announcing her lack of underwear. Pity, too, the film should stray into less than chivalrous territory in the characterisation of Kirk's ex-girlfriend (Lindsay Sloane), underlining Molly's apparent perfection by making her chief rival a more or less total bitch.

Still, there are nerd fantasies and there are nerd fantasies, and while She's Out of My League confines itself to the mildly, sweetly raucous - as brought to the party by Kirk's airport buddies, most notably TJ Miller's aggressively loyal Stainer and his militant Hall and Oates tribute band - it's a very solid six; you may even be able to forgive its lapses into contrived and desperate gross-out. (Anders and Morris have form as the writers of Sex Drive and Hot Tub Time Machine, and their influence is most keenly felt in a scene involving premature ejaculation and the Eve family pooch.) As for Baruchel (making a promising bid for comic-lead status after support slots in the likes of Knocked Up and Tropic Thunder) and Eve (keeping most of her clothes on for once, and - paradoxically - establishing herself as the new Heather Graham): well, they make a very cute couple.

She's Out of My League is on general release.

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