Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Man Up

Granted, we CeX writers probably aren’t the target audience for films like this. This is a date movie through-and-through, not a film to be analysed or reviewed – especially by us. And I was expecting to write a rather hateful piece about this, just from looking at the poster. I love Simon Pegg but I was getting ready to aggressively question his career choices that led him to this, and lose a lot of respect for the man. But you know what? Man Up is a pretty decent little film. It just goes to show, you shouldn’t judge a film by its poster. 

Out now on DVD & Blu-Ray and directed by Ben Palmer, Man Up stars Lake Bell as Nancy, a single and miserable woman who has given up on men – the sort of woman who’d rather sit in her pyjamas watching The Silence of The Lambs than go to a party where she might meet Mr. Right. But due to a mix-up at London Waterloo train station, she inadvertently finds herself on a blind date with Jack (Simon Pegg), who was waiting there to meet someone else. You can all imagine where the story is going. It’s a rom-com. So, of course they start to fall for each other but then, oh no, Jack finds out the truth and they fight, and it looks like it’s all over! Will they get together in the end?! It’s no spoiler to say that yes, of course they bloody do. But for a film with such a predictable and cliché-stuffed story, it’s a surprisingly entertaining watch.

Firstly, Lake Bell and Simon Pegg are great in their roles. Bell, an American actress who I honestly hadn’t heard of before watching Man Up, truly shines in the character of Nancy and although her first scene in the film – which the opening credits play over – is rather cringe inducing and unoriginal, she becomes increasingly likeable throughout. From her first scene, I was ready to hate her. By the end of the film, I’m thinking she’s one to watch. A talented actress she is, too! Playing the British Nancy, you can’t hear her American accent at all – something the crew of the film were surprised to hear, after she stayed in character for the entire shoot. And Simon Pegg is merely playing Simon Pegg, but who could ever have a problem with that? Starting the film bumbling and nervous and ending it after having shown true depth and heart, he’s not doing anything he hasn’t done before but after all of his Mission Impossible and Star Trek shenanigans, it’s nice to see him being himself again. And don’t get me wrong, Bell and Pegg are attractive humans – but it’s nice to see a pair of leads in a romance that look so…normal. If this was a Hollywood film, it’d surely be Channing Tatum and Emma Stone. But in Man Up, we have normal-looking folk. Therein lies a feeling of realism and relatability that you just don’t get in rom-coms these days.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though, it’s not all good. As discussed, there is a lot of broad and predictable clichés throughout that just stop it from being anything truly special. And there’s a rather tedious and out-of-place subplot involving an irritating, perverted stalker played by Rory Kinnear. But when watching a romantic comedy like this, I shouldn’t be surprised or frustrated by the shit parts. They’re an occupational hazard. What I should be surprised by is the good parts, which Man Up certainly delivers.

In conclusion, Man Up is by no means perfect. But Bell and Pegg put in great performances and despite the predictable narrative, the film is full of laughs and heart in equal measure. Man Up is a hell of a lot better than I was expecting, and is certainly the best romantic comedy I’ve seen in a long time.

Man Up is the perfect date movie and isn’t trying to be more than that, so earns a solid 4/5.


Sam Love

Man Up at CeX

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