Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Not a Big Splash: SHE'S OUT OF MY LEAGUE

She’s Out of My League is a thoroughly ordinary romantic comedy. It appears to be slanted more towards a male audience than is usually expected from this type of bland outing, but aside from that it offers up very few surprises. It’s comfortably helmed by Jim Field Smith in an unmemorable way. It has pounding pop songs, slick photography, and a photogenic cast. It even has a few jokes, or at least some mildly amusing moments where other, better comedies put their jokes.

Longtime second-banana Jay Baruchel, from Knocked Up and Tropic Thunder to name a few, becomes the lead-banana in a movie of his very own. He stars as the kind of guy whose old girlfriend (Lindsay Sloane) still gets invitations from his parents to join them for dinner or to go on family trips. She can even bring her new boyfriend along. Don’t we all know someone like that?

Anyways, this guy works at an airport doing his part to keep America safe by inspecting each passenger that moves through his security station. One passenger he doesn’t mind inspecting is a woman (Alice Eve) so attractive that we get a slow motion montage of drooling, wide-eyed men as she moves on her way to catch her flight. She loses her cell phone. He finds it, but she’s already airborne. They decide to meet (meet cute) when she gets back in town so he can return it to her.

So, they start dating, right? But all this guy’s friends (T.J. Miller, Mike Vogel, and Nate Torrence) say things like “Hey, dude! She’s hot! You’re a 5! She’s a 10! This can’t work out!” or variations thereof for, like, the next 40 minutes. Then, well, you’ve probably seen a few romantic comedies before, so you can probably guess what happens. You know, boy meets girl, boy loses girl, etcetera.

This is an acceptably standard rom-com and when so many in the genre can’t even pull that off, it’s some small accomplishment. Then again, “Not Painful!” is not exactly something that can be slapped on an ad in the paper. There’s some nice chemistry between the cast, even though the gaggle of babbling dudes plays like hand-me-down Apatow and the Perfect 10 remains too distant and idealized, so much so that a chance for emotional connection to these people is allowed to escape. It also doesn’t help that the movie plays like a gentle PG-13 forced into an uncomfortably fitting R, which also does nothing to stem the undercurrent of cruelty in the presentation of the protagonist’s family and ex-girlfriend, who are played as rude and ridiculously over-the-top idiots at a level that seems out of context with the rest of the movie.

The movie never becomes a dull dance of numerology, but it never quite becomes a satisfying romantic comedy, either. I didn’t have a bad time watching it. I smiled from time to time, I even managed a few chuckles, but as I left the theater the movie threatened to leave my mind. I kept it in my thoughts long enough to type out this written equivalent of a shrug, but I’ll let it go now. One day, a few years from now, I’ll be channel surfing and spot it and think: what’s this? That’s right, I think I saw that.

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