Remember the hoo-ha over whether Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl made a believable couple in Judd Apatow's "Knocked Up"?
The makers of "She's Out of My League" sure do. They've built an entire comedy from the premise, pairing string-bean Apatow alum Jay Baruchel with gorgeous newcomer Alice Eve and surrounding them with a chorus of Doubting Thomas friends who tell them their relationship can never work.
The central idea, vaguely lurking around the edges of the movie's gross-out humor and then spelled out at the end, is pure wish-fulfillment. Nerds and babes can hook up (really!), just so long as the geek possesses a good heart and healthy self-esteem.
One problem. The filmmakers forgot to give Baruchel's yammering, stammering airport security worker an actual personality that might appeal to the opposite sex. Say what you want about the professional prospects of Rogen's weed-loving loafer in "Knocked Up," you have to admit the dude made you laugh. And, from what we've heard, women do like a sense of humor.
The only thing Kirk (Baruchel) has is a sense of awkwardness and self-loathing. When we first meet him, he's rehearsing the reconciliation speech he plans to spring on his ex-girlfriend (Lindsay Sloane), the same ex-girlfriend who has become a regular (along with her idiot new boyfriend) at Kirk's parents' house since their breakup.
Pretty pathetic, huh? Kirk's fortunes take a radical change, however, when he meets Molly (Eve), a beautiful, intelligent woman fresh off a breakup and eager to ease back into dating with a safe, sweet guy like our hero.
Son of Eugene Levy?
Kirk's bro-friends — Stainer (T.J. Miller) and Jack (Mike Vogel) — are astounded and alarmed. Assessing their friend as a "five" and Molly a "hard 10," they argue that Kirk is upsetting the cosmic laws of sexual attraction.
"You can't jump more than two points!" says Stainer, though why exactly a grown man would listen to advice from someone named Stainer remains perpetually unclear.
And while Baruchel has been doing great things since debuting in the short-lived Apatow sitcom "Undeclared," the movie gives you absolutely no reason to believe that Molly wouldn't bail on him after the first date.
With his nasal voice and social ineptitude, we could see him as the son Eugene Levy never knew existed in some "American Pie" knockoff. But with a girl like Molly? Levy himself would stand a better chance.
In fact, Kirk is such a nice-guy non-entity here that it's disappointing whenever "League" cuts away from its more appealing supporting cast. Miller is a scream as Stainer, who, it turns out, has endured a dilemma similar to his friend's. (Hence, the bad advice.) And Nate Torrence is perfect as Devon, Kirk's moon-eyed pal who sees the world filtered through Disney princess movies.
"Let's go on a magic carpet ride," Devon enthuses at one point. As long as you kick Kirk off, buddy, we're on board.