She's Out of My League
Is she really going out with him?
Nerds have been getting the girl for decades. There’s always a moment of indecision — “Is she really going to pick the strong jaw, fabulous tan, and Lacoste pastels over the scrawny kid with weird friends?’’ Of course not, silly. Haven’t you been watching? The days of Burt Reynolds and David Hasselhoff are behind us. Skinny boys with pocket-protectors and a penchant for Peter Gabriel have inherited their throne.
“She’s Out of My League,’’ directed by Jim Field Smith, is cut from the same carbon copy. Jay Baruchel (Judd Apatow darling, “Undeclared’’ and “Knocked Up’’) plays Kirk, a painfully average guy with a gaggle of kooky pals. He’s at the bottom of the totem pole, the butt of every joke, even among his loser entourage and misfit family. He is a TSA agent at the Pittsburgh airport and drives a Neon. He has a physique ripped from a World Vision International infomercial.
Cue beautiful girl cast solely because of her head-shot photos. Alice Eve plays Christie Brinkley look-alike Molly. Not only is she gorgeous, rich, and smart (how many lawyer/ party planners do you know?) she also just happens to be into the sort of guys who hang out in comic book shops, looking for nipple slips in out-of-print issues of “Nights of Horror.’’ If “Confederacy of Dunces’’ was retooled as a modern bromance comedy, Ignatius J. Reilly would be dating Megan Fox.
Even though this is all as tired as the Fray songs littering the soundtrack, there’s something irresistible about “She’s Out of My League.’’ Mostly, it’s what saves all of these movies — the pithy, poppy, unrealistically quick dialogue between Kirk and his friends. It’s the only thing that catches you even remotely by surprise.
Kirk’s buds are stereotypes by now; the uncharacteristically attractive one usually faking or masking an Australian accent (in this instance, former fashion model Mike Vogel), the jerk (played by Jon Heder doppelganger T.J. Miller) and the geek of the geeks (Nate Torrence). They are flavor notes in an otherwise bland meal.
While Baruchel is fun to root for and watch flail about like a pipe-cleaner in the wind, this movie encourages a sick desire in me — to see Michael Cera and all the runners-up in the Mr. Puniverse Contest knocked down a peg by a bully with a neck the size of a tree trunk. Someone needs to restore the natural order around here.
Lucy Barber can be reached at LBarber@globe.com.