Man Up (2015) Directed by Ben Palmer. With Lake Bell and Simon Pegg.
Under the direction of Ben Palmer (known best for The Inbetweeners), Man Up is a bright n’ breezy Brit-com starring Lake Bell and Simon Pegg, who find themselves on a blind(ish) date in London. Written by Tess Morris (her first major solo work), the film is positively crammed with fun dialogue, supported by attuned performances that fully grasp its essence and make it laugh-out-loud funny.
Although it’s regularly acid-tongued, it’s still cosily British, wearing its Richard Curtis influences proudly, and in doing so, makes itself accessible across the Atlantic. There’s clearly a huge effort made to ensure American attention…and why not!? Just like the lions share of US Rom-Coms show-off New York (I’d throw most of them TO the lions), Man Up isn’t afraid to be loved-up on London.
Lake Bell and Simon Pegg are nothing short of perfect, as well as being the perfect screen pairing. Physically, there’s little that’s overly showy about either of them, which is a huge step up for the audience’s ability to relate to their characters. It’s one of those films that as the sentiment escalates, you feel a sense that it has earned the right to throw cheese-balls, as you fight all of your natural instincts not to ‘tear up’, knowing full well that shedding any eye water to a film this strategically designed to prompt it, is full-blown ridiculous.
Of course, much of what happens could only do so in a movie, but isn’t that sometimes exactly what we’re looking for? In keeping with the ages of the leads, the obligatory crowd-pleasing soundtrack is faithful to the 1980’s, as are many of the jokey references. Ultimately, as is the case in more or less any ‘rom-com’, what gives Man Up its broad appeal, is the strength of the writing, bound together with two enjoyable central performances. 4/5