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Beauty and the geek’s love story offers hope

Jay Baruchel and Alice Eve  star in  “She’s Out of My League.” Paramount (Paramount)
Jay Baruchel and Alice Eve star in “She’s Out of My League.” Paramount (Paramount)

Kirk (Jay Baruchel) is a five at best – a skinny, geeky airport security officer with no career prospects and little ambition, still obsessing over ex-girlfriend Marnie (Lindsay Sloane) even though they broke up two years ago.

By comparison – by anyone’s measure, really – Molly (Alice Eve) is a “hard 10,” a blond knockout with a law degree, a thriving event-planning business, a fantastic personality and a body that would turn heads at a funeral.

One of the running jokes in the film is how Molly remains unaffected by the men who constantly stare and drool and lose their train of thought around her. She’s learned to enjoy the discombobulating effect her beauty has on the opposite sex, but she hasn’t let it go to her head.

The central joke in “She’s Out of My League” – which marks the debut of director Jim Field Smith and was written by the team of Sean Anders and John Morris (“Sex Drive,” the upcoming “Hot Tub Time Machine”) – is that Molly doesn’t take an interest in Kirk out of pity or curiosity: She actually falls for him, and that completely freaks him out.

Being in her presence brings out every neurosis and apprehension, and soon Kirk is leaning on his friends to help with grooming and an “early bird” sexual problem. Molly’s just so hot, Kirk can’t relax and savor his situation.

“She’s Out of My League” essentially plays its central premise straight, although the film does find time to veer into gross-out humor (such as the grooming business; some things a man should do without help).

There is also the occasional extended setpiece, such as Molly’s dinner at the home of Kirk’s demented family, in which the movie kicks back and lets the ensemble cast play.

As Molly proves she’s more than a match for Kirk’s boorish brother and relatives, the humor takes on vaguely surreal dimensions, and the jokes fly from all directions.

Baruchel and Eve make a likable (if unlikely) couple, and the movie doesn’t resort to throwing cheap obstacles in their way, such as Eve’s fighter-pilot ex-boyfriend, who never becomes Kirk’s romantic rival in the way you expect.

Instead, “She’s Out of My League” tries to imagine what really would happen if a guy this dorky and a girl this beautiful fell in love.

It has a vague assembly-line air, and Smith’s attempt to build a Judd Apatow-ish stable of best buds and bros to serve as a Greek chorus for Kirk’s dilemma is only somewhat successful.

But the movie is convincing enough to give every Kirk in the world a semblance of hope. Every once in a while, love really is blind.

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