From someone who doesn’t like romcoms, Man Up is pretty good – 3.5/5
Why did they have to call this film Man Up? They could have least made it a pun if they were going to use such an annoyingly sexist phrase. Because despite the title and the fact that I generally dislike romcoms, this is a highly enjoyable film.
Nancy (Lake Bell) is being pressured by her sister and her friends to be outgoing with her lovelife and go on dates. One particular setup at her friends’ wedding does not go well and the next day, hung over and grumpy on her way to her parents 40th anniversary party, she bumps into Jack (Simon Pegg) who mistakes her for his blind date. Finding it too difficult and awkward to correct him, she goes along with it and a rollercoaster of a date ensues.
Firstly, Lake Bell’s British accent and acting is incredible. I love Nancy, other film writers take note this is how you write female characters in romcoms. She’s funny, smart, up for a laugh, occasionally petty, a bit unreliable and a regular human person. Most importantly she’s can still function as a human when talking to the male, because believe or not the sight of a man doesn’t generally make women suddenly unable to carry out a conversation without embarrassing themselves. (Sidenote: I love that the writer Tess Morris came up with the idea of the mistaken blind date because this actually happened to her, only she corrected the man’s mistake and then created the story while wondering what would have happened if she’d gone along with it).
Simon Pegg happens to be the lead in the only other romcom I’ve enjoyed, Run Fatboy Run, (though I’m not sure that film classifies as a traditional romcom as such), and as Jack he does his perfect blend of British charm and comedy mixed with middle class man averageness (though I still question the decency of a 40 year old man wanting to go on a date with a 24 year old).
I like that the whole date took place on one night, it kept the pace of the movie flowing and you really felt you were going on this event filled and emotional rollercoaster of a night with them. The cast of side characters including Nancy’s family and Jack’s ex add to the entertainment, with a particularly excruciatingly great performance from Rory Kinnear as Nancy’s high school stalker. I was almost ready to ditch my romcom hating ways until the climax when Jack gives a heartfelt speech to Nancy in front of her entire family and their friends. That was just dumb, they were a bunch of people he’d never met and he was interrupting their party to say all kinds of personal things to Nancy. He could have easily taken her into another room and said all that.
Apart from that, for a romcom, it was a pretty good film.
Director: Ben Palmer (The Inbetweeners, The Inbetweeners Movie)
Screenplay: Tess Morris
Starring: Lake Bell, Simon Pegg, Rory Kinnear, Olivia Williams, Stephen Cambell Moore, Sharon Horgan, Harriet Walker, Ken Stott, Ophelia Lovibond
Length: 1 hour 28 minutes