Man Up Review
When one thing in life is falling apart, another is just falling together
Unlucky in love, 34-year-old Nancy meets a stranger who mistakes her for his blind date.An undisclosed romance ensues, and both strangers discover when one thing falls apart, another is just falling together. Left disheveled by life in the city, Nancy (Lake Bell) seems to be looking for love in all the wrong places. At her age she’s more than a little cynical, but keeping in line with true Britishness, she’s got a witty answer to every pitfall. Whilst on her journey to her parent’s 40th anniversary party, Nancy meets Jessica (Ophelia Lovibond), a peppy, 24-year-old, about to go on a blind date.After a frank conversation about life and positivity, Nancy accidentally manages to commandeer Jessica’s blind date. Finding the two unlikely strangers have more in common than Nancy could have believed, she let’s Jack (Simon Pegg) believe she is Jessica until an old school friend outs her in the middle of their date. With her deception exposed both parties reveal their true colours - the funny, the endearing, and even the emotional. The only question left for the pair to answer is ‘What now?’
Although actually an American, Lake Bell’s English accent is flawless, as is her portrayal of a successful, lovely, if a little chaotic, 30-something, seeking to fit life’s jigsaw pieces together. Sometimes endearingly awkward, she manages Nancy’s emotions perfectly, cynical humour and all. Conversations with herself in the mirror ensure we know what’s going on in her head with each progressive step during the evening. It’s really takes some acting chops to play your average Brit so credibly, and Bell nails it without skipping a beat.
Jack, as played by Simon Pegg, is a 40-year-old in the midst of a midlife crisis. His chatty nature perfectly complemented by the writing: “...someone threw themselves onto the track again, but hey, that’s life!” Fully capable of emotion, Pegg even sheds a few merited tears (and it’s ok, guys!). Some really honest and relatable moments between Jack and Nancy add to the film’s authentic storyline. Their particular shared brand of banter bounces from cringey yet sweet to brutally straightforward, all the while maintaining a playful compatibility that's hard to top.
It takes real acting chops to play your average Brit so credibly, and American Lake Bell nails it without skipping a beat.
Musical hits from the ‘80s like ‘Bad to the Bone’ and ‘Here I Go Again’ are cued right on time, charging Jack with the task of finding Nancy after a devious diversion. Appropriate, fun and a little nostalgic, classic tunes hasten the finale, making us look forward to that fated moment Jack and Nancy have been waiting for.
The Love Punch’s Tess Morris writes in a perfectly paced fashion; we learn about both Nancy and Jack as they learn about each other. The humour is sometimes outrageous and sometimes sedate, sustaining the plot’s motivation of being enjoyable yet moving forward. Left in the awkwardly humorous and capable hands of Ben Palmer (The Inbetweeners Movie), he proves he can make comedy work at a higher level. Great entertainment by reliable, largely British talent makes this a solid and very enjoyable flick.
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