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MAN UP (review)

man_upMAN UP

Written by Tess Morris / Directed by Ben Palmer / Starring Lake Bell, Simon Pegg and Rory Kinnear

Jack: You’ve got to man up, Nancy – take chances!

We’ve all seen it many times before – single girl in her mid-30s has given up on dating and resigned herself to a life of track pants, old movies, and potato chips. Her relentless, happily coupled friends set her up on awkward blind dates that fail miserably and she just wishes everyone would leave her alone. But when she least expects it, and in the most unusual way possible, she meets the man of her dreams. Cue the exhausted, conventional rom-com.

Only that’s not the case with MAN UP, the BBC film directed by Ben Palmer (THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE) from a screenplay by first-time feature film writer Tess Morris. The movie certainly starts off in that stereotypical way, leaving you with the sense that it’s just another run-of-the-mill love story. But it quickly turns into something fresh, quirky and highly entertaining, thanks in large part to the film’s two leads.

Lake Bell (IN A WORLD…) is Nancy Patterson. 34 years old, outspoken and tired of losers, she finds herself in an awkward conversation with the perky young woman she’s seated across from on a train ride home for a family event. This seemingly insignificant chit-chat sets in motion a chain of events that lead to Nancy being mistaken for the young woman who’s on her way to a blind date with Jack (Simon Pegg, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION). The flustered Nancy is about to tell Jack that she’s not the woman he’s there to meet but is intrigued enough by him to decide to play along, at least for a little while. After all, she’s trying to live by a new mantra of “take chances” and this seems as good a place as any to start.

Man Up Movie

But as the evening goes on and their attraction increases, the opportunity to tell Jack the truth becomes more difficult for Nancy. Then there’s the added complication of Sean (Rory Kinnear, SPECTRE). Obsessed with Nancy since high school, he works at the bowling alley she and Jack show up at and he uses her secret to try and blackmail some of the attention he always wanted from her. Guaranteed, you won’t see him as the mild mannered Bond character after this.

MAN UP is a charming film with a witty script, but it’s difficult to picture it being as good as it is with anyone else in the starring roles. Bell and Pegg truly make the story, feeding off each other as they both flirt and fight with great on-screen chemistry. Neither is your typical romantic comedy “hero” and it gives their relationship a sort of underdog sweetness. Let this be a lesson track suit wearing, potato chip loving singles everywhere!

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One Comment

  1. I know I am going to love this film because Simon Pegg is in it!

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