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Man Up (Simon Pegg/Lake Bell) - DVD Review

Man Up

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

BRITISH romantic comedies have been something of a no-go zone in recent years since Richard Curtis retired and Colin Firth went serious. But Man Up goes a little way to restoring their reputation.

Starring Lake Bell and Simon Pegg as a mis-matched couple on a blind date, this boasts some decent chemistry and some witty interplay between the two leads that ensures the positives eventually outweigh the negatives.

Bell plays shy, introverted journalist Nancy, who uncharacteristically acts on impulse when being mistaken for a blind date at Waterloo Station by Pegg’s soon-to-be-divorced Jack.

The two subsequently bond over drinks and bowls until Nancy’s deception is revealed, prompting anger and recrimination. But does reconciliation beckon?

If the direction of Ben Palmer’s film is never really in question, Man Up still manages to take a few surprise turns along the way, albeit ones that strain credibility.

Hence, the inclusion of Rory Kinnear’s former classroom creep and Olivia Williams’ ex-wife smack of desperation and actually get in the way of the chemistry between Bell and Pegg.

While the mean-spirited nature of a lot of the jokes also feels symptomatic of a lot of what’s wrong with British comedy post The Office, given its relentless need to mine laughter from humiliation.

But in spite of this, Man Up wins you over because of the strength of its lead duo, who frequently rise above the material.

Pegg is good as Jack, nicely mixing endearing Everyman qualities with anger, hurt and a hint of desperation. But Bell is superb, again trading on many of the same elements but dropping in a couple of virtuoso moments in which we really get into the heart and soul of her character. She’s an emotional wreck, something that’s effortlessly conveyed with the range of her expressions, but she’s loveable with it. And the goodwill you feel towards her sustains the movie as a whole.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 106mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: September 28, 2015