If John Hughes had made Clerks 2, it might have went something like this.
Kirk (Jay Baruchel) is an average guy resolved to his fate of being average: average job, average girlfriend, and an average life. Enter Molly (Alice Eve), a beautiful, talented, and successful young woman who inexplicably takes an interest in him. Each getting bad advice from their best friends (T.J. Miller and Krysten Ritter) about the superficiality of the surprise relationship and its ultimate doom, the couple suffers through a series of misfortunes that tests their relationship to the breaking point. Will they see past their own self doubts to make a go of it, or was Molly truly out of Kirk’s league all along?
The plot is formulaic, but the comedy come naturally. As a buddy movie walking the edge of a screwball romantic comedy, League fearlessly addresses a couple’s worst fears, from meeting one another’s families for approval to initial copulation. With crass but believable dialogue inspired by View Askew productions, the scene setups are out of the John Hughes handbook, up to and including a post-911 reworking of a classic “running through the airport” scene. What else could you ask for in a ready-made date flick?
In addition to suffering numerous indignities, Kirk must also contend with a motley crew of misfits with nicknames like “Stainer” who follow the strict bro-code of making fun of Kirk’s misfortunes until they don’t hurt anymore. Then there’s Devon, played by Nate Torrence, who has some sort of hopeless romantic matchmaker thing going fueled by an unhealthy obsession with Disney’s Aladdin (with himself cast as the Genie.) It’s these kinds of quirks that fuel the absurdity while the main characters keep the central theme grounded. You can credit the finished film either with a good starting script or a great final cut to minimize dull points and keep the film moving along.
Jay Baruchel is already set for a great year. After League, he lends his voice to Hiccup in How to Train Your Dragon before becoming The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. And Alice Eve seems every bit as desirable and approachable a professional loser could wish for. What the film lets the audience discover for itself is that looks and luck only go so far, and “perfect” is in the eye of the beholder. Of course, this is how all of these films pan out; what did you expect from a screwball romantic comedy?
(a three skull recommendation out of four)