Brits say time to Man Up on love
Starring: Simon Pegg, Lake Bell, Olivia Williams, Ken Stott Directed by Ben Palmer. Written by Tess Morris. Rom-com. 1hr 28min. M for offensive language and sexual references. Now playing at Lighthouse Cinemas.
At the heart of any good rom-com is the charming fantasy that even the most incredible losers can find love everlasting.
The Brits seems to grasp that most ably, imbuing their romantic leads with enough humble bumble and awkward grace to make them sympathetic and believable – think Colin Firth in Love Actually, or Hugh Grant in Notting Hill.
Joining that duo of lovely losers is former scion of sci-fi and comedy Simon Pegg ( Star Trek, Paul), the adorable co-star of Man Up.
Pegg plays the craggy- faced
Jack, a sad-sack divorcee who’s never got over his one true marriage, or the affair that brought its demise.
He’s the unlikely love interest of Nancy (US star Lake Bell), slightly less believable as a romantic loser through being insanely attractive, though no less adorably dorky.
Nancy, 30- plus and single (Rom-com-ese for Romantic Disaster Area), has never found her one true love, and now she’s too disheartened to try.
By chance she meets bubbly 20- something Jessica ( Ophelia Lovibond), who’s on her way to a blind date, alive with hope and optimism in a way cynical Nancy can never be.
When Jessica forces Nancy to take a copy of the obnoxious selfhelp book she and her blind date were to use to recognise each other, a comedy of errors leads Nancy to meet the blind date instead, and finally take a chance on romance.
Yes, it’s contrived, and some of the jokes are forced, but there’s something lovely at the core of Man Up that can’t be denied.
Maybe it’s the cozy atmosphere of the British setting – lots of the scenes are shot on London’s South Bank and in Soho – or the fact that former model Lake Bell plays a surprisingly believable loser, but Man Up works.
It’s not particularly groundbreaking – the film’s main theme is common to a lot of rom-coms: don’t lose hope, take a chance and make true love happen – but, it’s delivered in a particularly charming form.
With Pegg in the frontline, Man Up is heavy on the com in the rom-com formula.
There’s one scene that will have folks of a certain age (ie, over 40) crying with laughter – let’s just say, our Duran Duran secret is out, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
It’s actually Bell, with an adopted British accent that is Meryl Streep flawless, who takes the comedy cake here, combining an awkward physicality with cringeworthy one-liners.
They make a charming pair, Jack and Nancy, and their fumbling attempts to connect, will have you casting off your own cynicism to man up and take a chance on love.
Could he be the one? Lake Bell and Simon Pegg ask the ultimate romantic question in British rom-com