Saturday, 12 June 2010

She's Out Of My League

Those going into She's Out Of My League expecting another tiresome Hangover style comedy will either be disappointed or pleasantly surprised by the result. By keeping the gross out gags to a minimum and focusing on a more innocent, old fashioned notion of romance, League turns out to be a sweet-natured joy.

Rising star Jay Baruchel (voice of Hiccup in How to Train Your Dragon) is airport security worker Kirk. Blessed (or cursed) in typical romantic comedy fashion with three friends/muses who are helping to see him through a recent break-up, the self-deprecating skinny loser, a solid '5' on the attractiveness scale, falls over heels for luminous event planner, Molly (Alice Eve). To his complete amazement, she reciprocates the attention in selfless fashion, and so begins a delightful attraction of opposites. But how long will it be before the relationship with the perfect '10' is derailed by Kirk's own neuroses?

From the moment that the ravishing Eve breezes through the airport, leaving a stream of slack-jawed luddites in her wake, to the heartening notion that a girl as attractive and intelligent as her would find unlikely love in a guy like Kirk, League exerts a beguiling charm. It has one eye on the innate pitfalls of all fairy tale relationships, ensuring a somewhat tense edge to a romance that seems to be in full bloom, and the other on the archetypal formula (wacky family; bromance; the ex and the parents). Thankfully, it focuses mainly on the former, meaning the mix is more honest than smug.

And the two lead performances are a delight, Baruchel walking just the right side of weedy and whingy, and Eve, a stunning blonde bombshell with brains to match. As good as they are however, the show is virtually stolen from under their noses by the wonderful T.J Miller (Cloverfield) as Kirk's know-all best mate, Stainer, harbouring serious personal baggage, but never afraid of offering sage advice of his own. Krysten Ritter's caustic Patty, Molly's best friend, also steals her fair share of show-stopping bombs.

In the end, the film wins by virtue of its big heart and life-affirming outlook. It avoids the yuck factor (mostly - premature ejaculation and a macho Brazilian job interlude offer painful asides) in favour of supporting the layman, the '5' who, it seems, is perfectly capable of scoring the girl of his dreams. It may veer more towards farce in the conventional 'chase through an airport' climax but that's a small misstep for a comedy this breezy, refreshing and witty.