On the surface She’s Out of My League is a fairly innocuous comedy. But there’s something cynical about the whole proceedings as it feels not only like a clone of a Judd Apatow movie, but a cheap knock-off that not only mimics the writer-director’s comedies, but also fails to understand that they feature worthwhile characters who develop over the course of the picture. The story of a loser who manages to start dating a woman who’s “out of his league” is a cliché, but rather than parody the lame-guy-gets-hot-girl relationship we see at the end of most guy-driven comedies, She’s Out of My League chooses to blindly indulge the absurdity as it tries to copy down Apatow’s winning formula.
Jay Baruchel plays Kirk: a dorky, average looking guy who, to the surprise of the planet (himself included), manages to start dating Molly (Alice Eve), a woman so hot that she causes every male jaw in the film to drop-on-command whenever she enters a room (because men find her attractive and that’s what we do-am I right, fellas?). Kirk’s selfish, horrible family and his asshole friend Stainer (TJ Miller) then spend the majority of the film ripping on Kirk, and wear away at his already non-existent self-esteem, leaving us to wonder what anyone could see in a guy who lets people treat him this way.
On the flipside, Molly is the definition of the word superficial. She’s not a bad person, but that’s only because she’s not much of a person. In addition to being hot, we learn she went to law school but now rakes in the cash as an event planner so we also know she’s smart and successful. She is flawless. Rather than laugh at the idea of anyone being perfect or a “10”, Molly is the person that Kirk and everyone else puts on a pedestal. That in itself is sad because it’s a celebration of superficial qualities over things that would distinguish her as an individual.
The film never takes us past what Kirk and Molly are on paper. Based on appearances, it makes no sense for them to be together, but as we spend more time with the two, we don’t learn anything more about their characters. As an audience, we need to know why Kirk and Molly connect and why the other characters wouldn’t get it. Baruchel and Eve can’t develop any chemistry because their characters and everyone else in the film are no deeper than a few adjectives. In addition to Stainer, Kirk also hangs out with Devon (Nate Torrence), who is a happily-married doughy romantic, and Jack (Mike Vogel), who is really attractive and appears to have nothing in common with these losers. But then again, there’s no camaraderie among any of them. They all work at the same airport, but I didn’t believe that these guys would hang out together in their free time. They’re friends because the film requires four guys to hang out, throw one-liners at each other and create various comedic situations (like when Jack convinces Kirk to go smooth in the ballsack region of the male anatomy). Some of the jokes and gags work, but nothing you’ll think back on and laugh about later.
Judd Apatow’s films stick not only because he works with a cast comprised mostly of improv comedians who create the best lines on set, but because there’s an emotional center at his films. They may star socially-retarded, immature men, but it’s about how these guys grow into better people because of their friendships and romances. She’s Out of My League rests its character growth on an “A-ha” moment near the end and thinks that if you pile on swearing, gross-out gags, and awkward situations you’ll have a movie that’s just as good. It’s not. The movie isn’t awful, but in trying to copy Apatow’s success, it unwittingly makes the argument that your time would be better spent staying at home and re-watching The 40-Year-Old Virgin.