She's Out of My League opens at an airport, all but guaranteeing a climactic dash to stop a flight; this is a romantic comedy after all. But as opposed to many other rom-coms of late, League doesn't ask for much of a contrivance to stick its unlikely couple together and starts out working more, not to mention working better, as a comedy of manners and social mores before falling back on those standbys of raunchy humor and sprints to the gate.
Kirk (Jay Baruchel, gawky as ever) is bearing with working security at a Pittsburgh airport when in walks Molly (Alice Eve, gorgeous as can be). As the other guys stand around and drool, he sees her through with some measure of respect and, as luck would have it, he's the one to find her phone once she discovers that she's left it behind. The meet-cute turns into a returned phone, which turns into a hockey game, which turns into a nice dinner and so on and so forth as both Molly's friend (Krysten Ritter) and Kirk's pals (T.J. Miller, Mike Vogel, Nate Torrence) look on and wonder what a girl like her is doing with a guy like him.
As directed by U.K. TV vet Jim Field Smith and written by Sex Drive's Sean Anders and John Morris, League falls somewhere between the Farrelly Brothers' tendency to value screwball gags and crude set pieces over sentiment and Judd Apatow's often ideal balance of the two. For a good hour, and despite all the would-be catch-phrases thrown our way (Kirk's boys call him a "moodle, like a man poodle"; they also subscribe to an increasingly complicated rating scale that dictates a 5 like Kirk would never land a 10 like her), the neuroses stem from the fact that everyone assumes that a pairing like this simply cannot be.
It takes no far-fetched bet or clearly scripted contrivance to get them going. She wants to try a nice guy for a change, and he doesn't want to look a gift horse in the mouth, and all that stands between them is the unknowable They, looming with doubt over a relationship so simple that it really can't be, can it? Baruchel displays feasible nice-guy charms, Eve seems equally aware of the pedestal she's being instantly placed on as her character is, and Smith does everything in his power to see that she fits the bill for a hard ten.
But between all the encounters with Kirk's loud family and run-ins with Molly's hunky ex (Geoff Stults), the low-brow stunts begin to creep in, the first involving a semen stain and a nosy dog, the second involving the grooming of pubic hair, and both reeking of desperation on behalf of the They behind the camera. League picks up a bit in the home stretch, even milking the typical run to the airport for some oddball laughs, but to apply that rating system that Kirk's posse is so very fond of, the movie starts to shape up like an 8 before trying to fit in by acting like a 5, which makes it a... 7?
Oh, it's a B.S. system anyway, as the boys inevitably come to understand. To put it another way, She's Out of My League is good for a couple of laughs, but falls short of being a keeper.