Judd Apatow has a lot to answer for. He's the writer-producer-director who started the current trend in big-screen comedies that combines semi-realistic adult characters with raunchy juvenile humor. Oh, we've had both types of comedy before, but seldom in such a mixture until 2005's "The 40 Year Old Virgin" and 2007's "Knocked Up." The latter are no great shakes insofar as movie comedies go, but they are at least funnier than most of the Apatow imitations, like 2010's "She's Out of My League," billed on the keep case with pull quotes like "the funniest comedy since 'The Hangover'" and "a blend of the sweet and the raunchy." When a studio has to brag about its comedy being "raunchy" in order to attract an audience, you reckon there might be something haywire.
Of course, we've had comedies about fairly realistic adult characters before, movies like "It Happened One Night," "The Odd Couple," "Moonstruck," and "Tootsie." And more recently we've had raunchy comedies, but they've been almost exclusively about teens, movies like "Animal House," "Porky's," and "American Pie." Apatow was among the first filmmakers to suggest that even adults could act like children experimenting with their first dirty words and naughty inhibitions. The trend caught on, and we see more of the same in the non-Apatow romantic comedy "She's Out of My League."
This is one of those comedies where the characters may be adults, but they almost all act about twelve years old. The exceptions are the two leads, whom the film intends us to fall in love with. But, really, they're too good to believe, and the plot is one we've seen before: a ravishing girl falls for a dorky guy. Go figure. Maybe it's every ordinary man's fantasy that from out of nowhere a beautiful woman will fall instantly in love with him; or maybe it's just the fantasy of screenwriters Sean Anders and John Morris and first-time feature director, Englishman Jim Field Smith. (Admittedly, it happened to me, but I'm the exception.)
In any case, Kirk Kettner (Jay Baruchel) is the main character. He's a tall, skinny young guy, a klutz who works for the Transportation Security Agency at a Pittsburgh airport. How dorky is he? When we first meet him he snorts when he laughs. He's got a low self-esteem, lives in a dumpy apartment, drives a clunker car, and looks like Napoleon Dynamite.
Worse, everyone around him is an airhead or a jerk, starting with his TSA buddies. Stainer (T.J. Miller) is Kirk's very-much-into-himself friend, who on the side sings in a two-bit rock band. Devon (Nate Torrence) is Kirk's sincere, overweight, married friend. And Jack (Mike Vogel) is Kirk's self-appointed supercool ladies'-man friend. Next are the members of Kirk's family, again knuckleheads and dimwits, including his airhead mom (Debra Jo Rupp), dunderhead dad (Adam LaFevre), and idiot brother (Kyle Bornheimer). Even Kirk's former girlfriend, Marnie (Lindsay Sloane), is obnoxious, yet Kirk's family has taken her in after her breakup with their son, and she lives with them.
Into this loser's life a little sunshine falls. Kirk meets Molly (Alice Eve) at the airport one day. She's a looker, a drop-dead-gorgeous perfect "10," a sophisticated former lawyer who's given up law for a better way of life as an event planner, who speaks French and lives in a swanky apartment. Apparently, no male in the film, young or old, has ever seen a pretty girl before because wherever Molly goes, she turns heads and makes fellows drool. I guess that's also a part of the fantasy.
Even the peripheral characters are dippy or mean-spirited. Molly's best friend, Patty (Kristen Ritter), is a foulmouthed shrew, and Molly's ex-boyfriend, Cam (Geoff Stults), is a conceited jet pilot who looks like Captain America and acts like it.
Still, the filmmakers want us to fall in love with the two main characters because they're so nice. Kirk may be ordinary in the extreme, but he's also about the most-decent guy in the world. Molly may be as attractive as any woman can be, but she's also charming and down-to-earth and seems genuinely to like Kirk. So, what's the problem? Well, everybody around them thinks it can't possibly work out, and they plot against the couple, naturally.
Essentially, what we get in "She's Out of My League" is an old-fashioned romantic comedy updated with a slew of immature, off-color jokes and f-words at every turn. With the exception of Kirk and Molly, the film's characters are adolescents playing at being adults. And how old-fashioned is the movie? It actually uses a musical montage about halfway in, with Kirk and Molly walking hand-in-hand through various romantic locations; and it does this in perfect seriousness, not as a parody.
Yes, we get the big downer moment before the big uplifting one, the heartbreak before the joy, the dark before the light. That goes without saying. In spite of the profanities and vulgarities, the movie is basically a corny, vintage, sentimental heart-tugger.
Still, there is one good laugh: "What's 'deplane' mean?"
It's not much, but what can you do?
On the plus side, DreamWorks use a dual-layer BD50 and an MPEG-4 codec to reproduce the 2.35:1 ratio film on high-definition Blu-ray, obtaining a rich color palette with deep, solid hues; deep blacks and glowing whites to set them off; and fairly sharp definition. On the minus side, we get facial tones that are a tad too dusky and shades that are probably more intense than most of us see in real life.
Pluses and minuses here, too. On the plus side, the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is clean, clear, taut, and dynamic. It provides plenty of power when necessary and at least a marginal amount of surround activity in the musical backgrounds. On the minus side, the music is often so much louder than the dialogue, you might be turning the volume up and down considerably throughout the film.
The extras are as ordinary as the main feature, yet in some ways they are better. First up is the mandatory audio commentary by the director, Jim Field Smith. As this is his first shot at doing a director's commentary, we can cut him some slack; he'll get used to it. Next is a featurette called "Devon's Dating Show" in high def that has the movie characters Devon (Kirk's friend) and Dylan (Kirk's brother) humorously discussing dating techniques for about seven minutes. Then, there's a selection of deleted scenes, also in high def, five of them including an extended ending but totaling only about three minutes. And following that is a six-minute blooper reel, again in HD, that is at least as funny as the movie.
The extras conclude with sixteen scene selections; bookmarks; English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese spoken languages and subtitles; and English captions for the hearing impaired.
I agree with the keep-case's pull quote; the movie is, indeed, "a blend of the sweet and the raunchy." However, that doesn't make it a good film. The fact is, "She's Out of My League" is largely silly, if well meaning, inoffensive but predictable, unoriginal, and bland. It's not exactly the "blend" a viewer hopes for in a romantic comedy.