Man Up – Review by Emily Elphinstone
Director: Ben Palmer
Writer: Tess Morris
Stars: Simon Pegg, Lake Bell, Ophelia Lovibond
It’s been a while since British rom-coms have hit the heights of Four Weddings and a funeral, or Bridget Jones; but the essential ingredients are still the same. In Man Up’s case, the awkward lead is Nancy Patterson (Lake Bell), a 34 year old who’d rather stay in a hotel room and watch Silence of the Lambs, than be set up at a friend’s engagement party. That’s until Jack (Simon Pegg) mistakes her for his blind date, and she finds herself going along with it rather than correcting his error.
There are a lot of strong elements to the film. Bell and Pegg have great chemistry, and are naturals at that awkward first date banter. They’re backed up by a brilliant supporting cast, including Ken Stott and Harriet Walter as Nancy’s parents, and Ophelia Lovibond as the super chirpy self-help book fan originally intended to meet Jack.
Man Up works best when keeping things simple: the pithy conversation and wonderfully recognisable characters are more than enough to keep the audience entertained, but set pieces involving fire extinguishers or emotional breakdowns seem superfluous. Similarly, Rory Kinnear nearly steals the show as the creepy former schoolmate threatening to expose her true identity, but elements of his character move so close to stalker territory, that it doesn’t seem quite appropriate for a comedy.
There are moments later in the film where the writing does let it down slightly; barriers to their happiness created just so they can be fixed again; and parts of the climax are done far more for comic effect than believability, which is distracting. However, with such likeable characters it’s easy to stick with it, and director Ben Palmer keeps the energy moving throughout. It may not be an instant classic, but Man Up is well worth a watch.