sun 15/12/2019

Man Up | reviews, news & interviews

Man Up

Man Up

Lake Bell and Simon Pegg star in a romantic comedy with a manic screwball edge

Simon Pegg and Lake Bell: 'They make for an amiable pairing in a hugely enjoyable and fast-paced comedy'

American actress Lake Bell turns in a rather charming performance in a romcom written by newcomer Tess Morris, who handles the insecurities of a thirty-something woman looking for love in a funny and energetic way.

There's a manic screwball edge to the comedy and some witty one-liners but also present are some of the worst pitfalls of this genre. The Inbetweeners director, Ben Palmer, takes the reins in a film which dashes across famous London landmarks and the back roads of suburban England with verve. When Nancy (Lake Bell) is gifted a romantic self-help book by a woman on a train who’s due to meet a blind date at Waterloo station she becomes embroiled in a case of mistaken identity. She takes a chance, steals her blind date, a forty-something man named Jack (Simon Pegg) and ends up having a wonderful time.

There's some Richard Curtis-style surface level humour in the supporting characters who fill the desperate weirdo quota

That is, until he finds out she's not who she says she is and they wind up on an incredibly awkward double date with his ex. Morris and Palmer inject the first half of the date with a spontaneity that superbly captures the excitement of meeting a potential suitor who could end up to being the one. Morris also does a fantastic job of making her lead characters as fully rounded as possible within the constraints of the romantic comedy formula. Though there's some Richard Curtis-style surface level humour in the supporting characters who fill the desperate weirdo quota, her two leads are brilliantly sketched.

Jack is suffering from a broken heart, his bitter ways and head-in-the-clouds attitude threatening to ruin his chances of finding a new partner. We first meet Nancy in a hotel psyching herself up to attend a wedding reception: she's working on her self-esteem and confidence via a handy to-do list which includes getting stronger thighs. Morris makes Nancy a wholly relatable character and nicely balances her cynicism with a healthy dose of sincere positivity. Olivia Williams appears as Jack’s soon to be ex-wife in a role that doesn't really offer much other than a stereotype. Considering Morris makes fun of the fact that Jack is initially set up with a 24-year-old it's a bit odd that he eventually finds a romantic connection with someone 10 years his junior and younger than his ex.

Still, it's better than the alternative and backs up the idea within the film that there is no special recipe in the quest for a partner. It's all about the spark. Lake Bell’s British accent is spot on and her ability to switch between cracking jokes and emotionally wrought is impressive indeed. Simon Pegg is finely tuned to the everyman character and his performance recalls his endearing early work from Shaun of the Dead. They make for an amiable pairing in a hugely enjoyable and fast-paced comedy.

Overleaf: watch the trailer for Man Up

Morris makes Nancy a wholly relatable character and nicely balances her cynicism with a healthy dose of sincere positivity

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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