She's Out of My League

(2010) ** R
105 min. DreamWorks, Paramount Pictures. Director: Jim Field Smith. Cast: Jay Baruchel, Alice Eve, T.J. Miller, Mike Vogel, Nate Torrence.

/content/films/3775/1.jpgFrom a distance, it walks like an Apatow comedy, it talks like an Apatow comedy, but She's Out of My League isn't produced or directed by comedy powerhouse Judd Apatow. It stars Jay Baruchel, a scrawny man-child from Apatow's stable of talent (he was the geeky leading man of Apatow's TV series Undeclared, and a supporting slob in Knocked Up). Yet more conspicuously, She's Out of My League is a romantic comedy designed to appeal to guys. But lean in a bit closer and squint a little, and it becomes clear that director Jim Field Smith and writers Sean Anders & John Morris have made a Kevin Smith pastiche, with raunch-mouthed wingman, pop culture references, scatology, and an emotional climax evocative of Chasing Amy.

So She's Out of My League doesn't have a strong stylistic identity of its own, and tends to be off-putting, which is a shame, because it's on to something about the dynamic between put-together women and the legions of nervous men who shoot themselves in the feet while longing for them. According to one of his friends, Kirk Kettner is "a moodle...a man poodle"—in other words, a guy girls would rather cuddle than "do." His girlfriend Marnie (Lindsay Sloane) recently became an emasculating ex, leaving Kirk desperately trying to win her back (bad idea) and generally licking his wounds. So when he gets the attention of uber-hot event planner Molly McCleish (Alice Eve), Kirk literally can't believe his luck. He has a point: Molly seems more fantasy than reality: her dream-girl status is elevated by her love for hockey, fer gosh sakes (the movie shares a hockey fetish with the Canadian Baruchel). But there's an explanation: Molly is looking for someone "safe." Plus, she's not entirely sold: she's concerned her airport-security will be unimpressive to her parents, especially compared to her jet-pilot ex Cam (Geoff Stults).

Meanwhile, doormat Kirk puts Molly on a pedestal and cultivates his low self-image. His airport-security buddies Stainer (T.J. Miller), Jack (Mike Vogel), and Devon (Nate Torrence) aren't much help, and Stainer, in particular, feeds Kirk's neuroses by insisting Kirk can't "cover the spread," given that he's a 5 and Molly's a "hard 10." The film is witty enough to put the film's solution just before its opening credits, when Devon says, "You could just be who you are. Why can't that be good enough?" and is promptly cowed by another guy's macho cutdown.

The culmination of all of this angst is a nicely written scene in which Kirk and Molly have it out about their apparent mismatch: it's a surprisingly credible argument for a romantic comedy, a genre that usually has to reach awkwardly to find a reason to separate its lovers. The couple's first date has a certain sweetness to it, but these scenes are the exceptions to the rule of a script that gets distracted from the burgeoning relationship to flounder for comic situations: the biggest efforts come as stale Meet the Parents-style embarrassments (Kirk's family is obnoxious beyond belief) and American Pie-esque sequences played more for squirm value than relatability (scenes built around premature ejaculation and manscaping). In the end, the plot feels too thinly developed and eager to please, as evidenced by gairsh product placement.

The nebbishy Baruchel—a junior Eugene Levy—is funny enough to carry the picture: he also does sincerity well and has a winningly rubbery physicality. Eve suits her role, though her feelings never seem to run as deeply as they should, Miller gives some snap to the lines given to his blithe jerk, and there's nice support from Vogel, Torrence and Krysten Ritter as Molly's sweet-and-sour friend Patty (wasted: the underrated Andrew Daly in two scenes as Kirk's TSA boss). She's Out of Control will play better on home screens—on video and on cable—but it's a shame more time wasn't spent whipping it into "dramedic" shape.

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Aspect ratios: 2.35:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Street date: 6/22/2010

Distributor: Paramount Home Entertainment

Paramount delivers She's Out of Control in a strong special edition on Blu-ray. Like most romantic comedies, the feature has a bright, warm look designed to invite laughter, and the transfer does a good job of smoothly recreating that aesthetic. Colors are pleasing (though flesh tones skew a bit to the warm side), black level is deep, and detail and texture are excellent. For this material, one can't ask for much more, and the same can be said for the audio, which is definitive in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Separation strikes a nice balance, and there's thoughtful ambience given to the various public settings (airports, restaurants); music is full and dialogue is always clean and clear.

The disc includes a nuts-and-bolts commentary by director Jim Field Smith, who does a good job of telling you probably more than you wanted to know about the making of the movie.

A fun bonus is the comedy short "Devon's Dating Show!" (7:28, HD) with Devon (Nate Torrence) and Dylan (Kyle Bornheimer) doling out questionable relationship advice.

Five "Deleted Scenes" (3:33 with "Play All" option, HD), including an "Alternate Ending," come with optional commentary by Smith.

Last up is a "Blooper Reel" (6:20, HD) that includes lots of "line-o-rama" alternate takes. Happily, Paramount continues its commitment to delivering the bonus features in HD, making the reasonably priced Blu-ray the best bet for fans of the movie.

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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