27 February 2017

Man Up (starring Lake Bell and Simon Pegg)

Once again, this is a DVD that was recommended to me by Amazon, so I put it on my wishlist. I was given it for Christmas, and we decided to watch it last night. Billed as a ‘romantic comedy’ we realised that this phrase covers all sorts, from bittersweet poignant films with just the odd moment of wry humour through to those where the romance is minimal and the comedy element, whether humorous or not, more significant.

However, ‘Man Up’ managed to fit the bill perfectly. The storyline is that of a potential romance: it takes place over just one day. There’s humour too, with a somewhat ridiculous premise: a girl ends up on someone else’s blind date.

Nancy (Lake Bell) is fed up of dating and heartbreak, and as we meet her at the start of the film, she is keen to avoid too much partying or being set up with guys. On the train, on the way to help her parents celebrate an important anniversary, she realises someone has left a book behind. In an attempt to return the book, she is mistaken for the girl concerned by the rather nervous Jack (Simon Pegg). He thinks she is Jessica, a friend-of-a-friend ten years younger than Nancy, and Nancy doesn’t get a chance to tell him the truth at first. Before long, she doesn’t want to…

The film then takes them to bars and clubs, as they get to know each other and find a great deal in common. It could have been silly or trite, but the dialogue is fast-paced and the chemistry between the two is exceptionally strong. There are humorous moments, although nothing that made us laugh aloud, and the whole is a light-hearted romp, with dramatic tension as we know that, at some point, Nancy is going to have to confess…

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this film, as the story itself is pretty thin, and there is rather more bad language than I’m comfortable with. There's also a great deal of innuendo, most of which isn’t necessary, and which is - I assume - what gives it a 15 rating in the UK, and as high as R in the United States. There’s no nudity as such, nor any scenes of intimacy or violence. It could have been suitable for younger teenagers and I thought it a pity that the writer and director felt it necessary to include so many overt sexual references and swearing.

Still, that’s my only gripe. Inevitably there are caricatures: I thought Nancy’s parents rather too sweet, and the real Jessica (Ophelia Lovibond) is sickly-sweet, self-centred and not very intelligent. The barman Sean (Rory Kinnear) would be creepy if he wasn’t so exaggerated. But it doesn’t matter; the two principals work so well together that the rest are in the background, and reality can be somewhat suspended for the course of the film.

We watched the documentary on the DVD after the end of the film, and were astounded to learn that Lake Bell is American; while there are hints of that in the way she plays Nancy, we would not have guessed from her accent, which sounds flawlessly British.

Recommended, if you don’t mind the ‘adult’ content.

Review by copyright 2017 Sue's DVD Reviews

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