Director: Ben Palmer

Cast: Simon Pegg, Lake Bell, Ophelia Lovibond, Rory Kinnear, Olivia Williams

Classification: M (Sexual References and Coarse Language)

Review by Peter Gray

The type of film that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside, ‘Man Up’ is a deliriously adorable comedy of errors that constantly remains charming, quirky and cheerful for its swift 90 minute runtime. Predominantly taking place over the course of one night, the boy-meets-girl tale we’re all so familiar with gets a fresh overhaul due to a case of mistaken (stolen) identity allowing our couple (one a cynic, the other a romantic) to breeze from one outrageous scenario to the next.

At 34 years old, Nancy (Lake Bell) is feeling the pressure of singledom as her circle of friends continue in their efforts to palm her off to a variable assortment of “Mr rights”; her latest set-up is typically wrong. Her non-existent love life is set for a major shake-up though thanks to the effervescent persistence of Jessica (Ophelia Lovibond), a peppy stranger sitting opposite Nancy on the morning train that picks up on Nancy’s pessimistic outlook and proceeds to ramble off mantras she has learned from a best-selling self-help book. This book is Jessica’s tell for a man she’s planning to meet off a blind-date arrangement, an optimistic procedure that only spurs Nancy further. As fate would have it though, Nancy finds herself in the unwanted possession of said book, and when the chatty Jack (Simon Pegg) spots her, he can only assume she’s the Jessica he’s been waiting for.

Under normal circumstances it would be easy to be disinclined with a character such as Nancy given that she nabs another woman’s date from under her nose, but as played by the superb Lake Bell she’s a personality impossible to dislike, and the situational insanity she finds herself in only fuels our enjoyment of her behaviour. Over the course of Nancy and Jack’s date, the sparks fly ever so freely but naturally they come crashing to a halt when Jack learns the (un)fortunate truth; Nancy is not a 24 year-old triathlete as advertised. There’s no surprises in where ‘Man Up’ is heading though, even when the charming duo are at odds with each other, but it really doesn’t matter when everything transpiring on screen is so genuinely funny.

Pegg and Bell bounce off each other with such an ease, their individual comic timing complimenting one another beautifully, that they ultimately elevate this simple comedy beyond expectation. When it comes to romantic comedies, the British seem to get it right more often than not and ‘Man Up’ is another solid example of their ability to fuse all the ingredients together cohesively. It doesn’t break the mould but it certainly has fun shaping it.

My rating: 3.5/5

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