The Review: As someone who grew up living in a treehouse built slap bang in the middle of the ugly tree, occasionally falling out and hitting every branch on the way down, I’ve always had a lot of sympathy for the beauty / beast type of story and movie. Although, to be fair, we’re not quite in Chewbacca’s less attractive cousin territory here, as the movie makes very clear that Jay Baruchel’s Kirk is resolutely average, with a detailed calculation deriving how he’s a 5. Given that, even early on, he has a certain geeky charm, maybe that’s harsh; it’s also fair to say this movie may have had to work harder, and been more refreshing, if he’d been a 2 or a 3.
As someone who spilled a pint of beer within two millimetres of his father-in-law’s lap the first time they went for a drink, I also know about the social embarrassment that comes with dating and relationships. This movie starts at the part others end at – the guy gets the girl, it’s now about whether he can hang onto her or not. Crucial to that is Jay Baruchel himself, who always comes off as likeable, a sort of more interesting Shia LeBeouf, and he manages to have chemistry with both his colleagues, his family, and crucially with Alice Eve as the ‘she’ of the title.
As someone who’s regularly taken (mostly) good-natured abuse from those groups of family and friends, it’s easy to see how much humour can be mined from these situations, but actually things take a little while to hit their stride. Early situations feel slightly forced, and every other character comes off as either offensive, stupid or both. It takes a trip to Kirk’s family meal to throw up some more realistic, and funnier, situations and better dialogue, and from there the movie starts to hit its stride.
As someone who’s had to… actually, way too much detail (I had to have an operation, but I’ve already said too much), I also understand the things people are willing to put themselves through in the name of love or lust. The characters here do eventually manage to win over sympathies, but what’s eventually a fairly conventional narrative with no unexpected twists and turns is kept interesting by the two leads and the (just about) satisfying streak of warmness and honesty that runs through the whole enterprise.
Why see it at the cinema: As this isn’t likely to be out of anyone’s league, at least some satisfaction should be had by all. Sadly, the only standout imagery is literally just that.
The Score: 6/10