Starring Lake Bell, Simon Pegg Olivia Williams, Ophelia Lovibond
Man Up opens like an installment of Bridget Jones, complete with another American actress hurling an English accent. Whether it’s the talent of Lake Bell (In A World) as a comedian, or the goofy charm of Simon Pegg (Mission Impossible), Man Up is enjoyable because the script jumps outside the expected often enough to keep you laughing and interested in 90 minutes. I kept thinking how different British and American romantic comedies are, Man Up seems to understand that, as it caters to the attributes found in Love Actually, Notting Hill or Bridget Jones Diary.
Nancy (Bell) is babbling on a train about her non-existent love life, when a fellow passenger, introduced as Jessica (Lovibond), interjects with a book that will change her life. The two argue about relationship status, as Jessica reveals she is going on a blind date, meeting a man at the station, under the clock, they will both be carrying this life changing book. When the train pulls into the station, Nancy is jolted awake, nearly missing her stop when she sees Jessica’s book, left for her out of pity. Nancy rushes to return the ridiculous book to its owner, but is mistaken by blind date Jack (Pegg) as his Jessica. Nancy takes a risk, plays the part of Jessica until she is having such an amazing time with Jack, she is forced to reveal her deceptive truth.
The entire film relies on the chemistry between Bell and Pegg which relishes their equally geeky and outsider Hollywood status.
Man Up strives on silliness and often uses familiar and predictable circumstances, Jack talking so much and so fast Nancy can’t tell him the truth, that we often think we know where the story is going. Thankfully and much to my surprise, the depict ends at the end of the first act, which leaves two more acts to see where this romantic comedy is headed. The entire film relies on the chemistry between Bell and Pegg which relishes their equally geeky and outsider Hollywood status. The film takes place in a crazy 24 hour period and the blind date is broken up with supporting characters from Nancy’s family and Jack’s past. The script lowest segment is a manipulation sequence with actor Rory Kinnear (Skyfall) as he threatens to expose Jessica as Nancy if she doesn’t preform favors.
Since celebrities like Katherine Heigl and Jennifer Aniston have essentially ruined the American romantic comedy genre to the point of near extinction, Man Up is a recent reminder there is still a little gas left in the tank. This film isn’t as sharp, witty or satisfying as Bell’s In A World, but it continues to show her ability to steer a film in lead roles. Not an award winner, or even a film you will likely remember at the end of the year, but it’s rapid delivery method, sharp editing doesn’t leave the viewer time to get bored or even dissatisfied.
Bell & Pegg have good chemistry in a moderately entertaining romantic comedy.