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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

She’s Out of My League (review)

Necessary Reassurance

I must say that it’s awfully generous of Hollywood, after engaging in a decades-long campaign to winnow down the image of what it’s acceptable for a woman to look like if she expects to be received in polite company — or any kind of company at all, in fact — to finally acknowledge the impact this has had on real people.

Not on the women! Oh dear god no. Everyone knows that fat ugly chicks aren’t real people! No, the impact on the men. Men — ordinary plain schlubby unkempt men — have for so long been bombarded with images of impossibly physically perfect women that they’re beginning to doubt themselves. Even after all the reassurances they’ve received, via everything from Maxim to The Man Show to every other sitcom featuring an overweight idiotic jackass of a man with a slender beautiful wife, that they absolutely deserve a supermodel, regular schmoes find themselves obsessively pondering the notion: Am I worthy of such a goddess? The damage to men’s self-esteem is incalculable. Won’t someone — excuse me, I’m getting all choked up here — think of the boys?
Fortunately She’s Out of My League is thinking of the boys and their fragile, fragile egos. While also at the same time treating them like drooling, hormonal Neanderthals incapable of rational thought. But the boys won’t notice that — in fact, they’ll be celebrating this obnoxious movie — because it soothes them, tells them to just relax, of course you are worthy of that ridiculously hot Barbie doll of a sexpot. Of course you are.

There are, it’s true, a very few aspects of League to be commended. One is that drop-dead gorgeous Molly (Alice Eve: Stage Beauty) notices dorky-cute Kirk (Jay Baruchel: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist) because he treats her like an actual human being instead of a blowup doll when they meet at the airport security checkpoint where he works as a TSA guard and she’s hurrying to catch a plane. While every other person-with-a-penis slavers all over her and subjects her to government-sanctioned harassment — because she’s hot, see, and what else is a man with a modicum of authority supposed to do, just let her go on her way? — Kirk is polite and respectful, and not even in a way calculated to make her notice him. Astonishing!

While Kirk may see Molly as more than just a collection of random titillating body parts — swelling breasts, pouty lips, slender feet in fuck-me shoes — this is not how screenwriters Sean Anders and John Morris (who together wrote NBT: Never Been Thawed) and director Jim Field Smith introduce her. She’s got her own portable field of slo-mo and wind-machine as she strolls into the airport, and I suppose this is meant to be part of a joke, that the audience should see her as outrageously, fuckable hot and then be surprised when she turns out to be an actual person after all. (Fat ugly chicks may not be real people, but hot women aren’t either. They just get more unwanted attention from the men who don’t see them as human.)

In fact, the entirety of League seems constantly amazed, treating its own plot as a huge mystery: “Can you believe this bombshell can stand to be in the same room as this dork?” it appears to be asking — you can almost feel the movie shaking its head in bewilderment — as Molly and Kirk proceed to embark upon an otherwise normal dating relationship. “It feels like the universe is out of tilt,” one friend of his exclaims at this state of affairs. What’s worse, the film doesn’t have as much respect for Kirk as he has for Molly. Kirk is an object of derision both within the context of the story — his supposed friends and even his family treat him like dirt — and outside it: League’s own amusement at the sheer novelty of a man being able to treat a woman like a person never wears off.

Men should be insulted by this. Though I suppose it’s nothing to the humiliation a man should expect were he to treat a fat ugly chick like a person.


MPAA: rated R for language and sexual content

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb | trailer
more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine

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