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She’s Out of My League (Blu-ray Review)

21 Jun, 2010 By: Mike Clark

Street 6/22/10
Box Office $31.6 million
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for language and sexual content.
Stars Jay Baruchel, Alice Eve, T.J. Miller, Mike Vogel, Nate Torrence, Krysten Ritter, Lindsay Sloane.

If you never caught him in such TV series as “Undeclared” and “Just Legal” — or didn’t particularly notice him in Million Dollar Baby, Knocked Up or Tropic Thunder, where he was obviously overshadowed by others — here’s a chance to see what Jay Baruchel (voice of hero “Hiccup” in the smash How To Train Your Dragon) actually looks like.

But he isn’t the main selling point of what was regarded as maybe half-a-sleeper when it played in theaters in March. The key hook isn’t just co-star Alice Eve, who is to the eyes what Cutty Sark is to throat passages, but a premise advancing the theory that maybe, just maybe, a stunning woman might get so sick of the egotistical male “10s” she’s used to dating that she’d prefer the calming influence of a “5.” It’s a male fantasy, of course — and these comedies tend to be written and directed by males — but then, “maybe, just maybe” has an awful lot to do with what the appeal of cinema has always been.

What’s more, the Molly character actress Eve makes convincing isn’t just a babe but a thoroughly sweet person — certainly one more tolerant of some of the film’s supporting characters than a lot of people of either sex would be. And this is interesting because it hints that the actress is malleable. In Starter for 10 (2006), Eve was credibly shallow as a well-heeled university bombshell who proves bad news for a working-class protagonist (James McAvoy). And in 2009’s Crossing Over, she was somewhat in the middle: an actively duplicitous illegal immigrant who is nonetheless sympathetic because she’s trapped in a sleazy relationship with an L.A. issuer of green cards (Ray Liotta) who takes advantage of her situation. (The fact is that he legitimately falls for her is an interesting twist in a not particularly interesting movie that headlined Harrison Ford).

In this case, Baruchel’s Kirk character helps out Molly (a stranger) a couple times at the airport not because she’s gorgeous but because he’s a good guy. She reciprocates with a small favor, and one thing leads to another, which includes meeting Kirk’s circle of friends — one of whom gives supporting player T.J. Miller to give an amusing “what-me-worry?”-type performance as a guy named “Stainer.”

Friends’ reactions are a major part of the plot, and here we enter Marty territory when pals on both sides of the relationship do what they can to sabotage the romance, though in this case not always consciously or intentionally. Of course, the movie doesn’t quite have the courage of its convictions. Just as Betsy Blair in the 1955 Oscar winner wasn’t as unattractive as Ernest Borgnine’s Bronx-Neanderthal buddies made her out to be, Barcuchel isn’t exactly Quasimodo. (In the TV version of Marty, where Rod Steiger originated the part, Nancy Marchand had the Blair role and really was made to look homely — not that Steiger, or Borgnine, were ever exactly matinee idols themselves).

In what is otherwise a mild and easy-to-take comedy, it’s refreshing to find sexual content just randy enough to get League slapped with a ‘R’-rating — not so much for prurience sake but just because ‘PG-13’ has become just too predictable a rating for “youth” romances that don’t employ any of the Judd Apatow crew. In fact, the biggest problem I have with the movie is how revolting every member of Kirk’s family is on every level (including dietary). They alone could put the kibosh on any romantic yearnings, no matter what the two principal parties think of each other. And if I were Molly, I’d be sweating the gene pool.

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