Film Review – Man Up
34 year-old Nancy (Lake Bell) is pretty much over the dating scene in Ben Palmer‘s new film Man Up, preferring to hole up in her hotel room rather than face a set-up at her friend’s engagement party. Later, she travels by train to her parent’s 40th wedding anniversary and meets chipper 24 year-old Jessica (Ophelia Lovibond – love that name) who is on her way to a blind date. Through an accident of fate, Nancy is mistaken for Jessica by said date, Jack (Simon Pegg), and because he quotes The Silence of the Lambs to her, and she loves that film, she is loath to inform him of his mistake. So instead of correcting him, she decides to be uncharacteristically spontaneous and see what happens. And they have a wonderful time, until a stalkery old classmate of hers, Sean (Rory Kinnear), shows up and ruins her cover. Jack is somewhat taken aback by the situation and is very upset with the fact that Nancy is not the 24 year-old triathlete who works in the city he thought she was. She is somewhat offended by his emphasis on her real age. Then his ex-wife shows up, Jessica makes an appearance, and hijinks ensue. Will Nancy make it to the anniversary party? Will these two star-crossed lovers ever realize they are perfect for each other? Will Sean’s machinations spell doom for true love? Watch and find out!
I’m always complaining about the lack of decent romcoms, which is funny because I’m usually doing so right before I tell you how the current movie I am reviewing is actually pretty good. This is no exception. I had a fun time with this film. It’s smart and funny and sweet. It’s too silly at times, and the Sean character is more creepy than funny, but the chemistry between the two lead actors is enough to overcome any bumps in the script. What I liked most about the film was almost all of the characters are good people who wish the best for each other. When Jessica discovers Jack has fallen for Nancy, she doesn’t get angry – she’s excited about her role in helping two people find the possibility of love. Nancy’s sister is annoyed at her for being late to the party, but she’s also happy that her sister may have met someone. Nancy and Jack both say and do things they probably shouldn’t, but they are both willing to risk being open with a relative stranger. It’s a goofy romantic comedy, but the characters are smart both intellectually and emotionally, and I found it pretty satisfying (if in no way groundbreaking or particularly original.)
And could there be two more perfect leads than Lake Bell and Simon Pegg? No. The answer is no. I love Simon Pegg. Not in a creepy way. (At least I don’t think so.) There’s just something nice about him. He seems smart and funny and is able to transfer that to the screen. (Maybe he’s not. I don’t know him. He could be horrible. Don’t ruin my illusions please.) And he has a really nice voice, as does Lake Bell for that matter, although it is a bit weird to hear her with a British accent. According to the IMDb, she went to college in the UK, so I’m going to buy into it. I just like her; she also seems nice and smart, and I did not feel I was betraying my feminist ideals by enjoying this movie. One of the reasons most romcoms bug the hell out of me, is that they are so regressive in their portrayal of what women are. I think you can be a feminist and enjoy romantic entertainment, but boy do they make it hard sometimes. Nancy is a bit of a goof, but she’s also interesting and funny and a little more three-dimensional than your average romantic heroine.
Man Up was better than expected, if not quite as good I had hoped for. Not everything works as well as it should, and the ending goes pretty much where you think it will. But it delivered a solidly enjoyable time, and I recommend it. The presence of Simon Pegg will bring in the men, and I don’t think there’s anything here to turn them off from enjoying the movie. (And may explain some of the silliness in the script.) It’s a fun little romantic comedy, and at a time when the really world can sometimes seem very dark, enjoyable light entertainment is not to be sniffed at. If you are looking for a little escapism to brighten your day, you might just find it here.