In the never-ending struggle to find new ways for a rom-com couple to “meet cute”, Man Up stands out. When committed, yet somewhat unhappy, singleton Nancy (US actor Lake Bell) is mistaken for his blind date by Jack (Simon Pegg), she decides to go along with it, leading to a fun time with a pretty big sword of doom hanging over it. There’s a fair amount of quality banter here, and the characters are just rough-edged enough to make them plausible even as the story piles on the coincidences and wacky hijinks as they race all over London.
The charisma miss-match between the leads – Bell is very likeable and funny, Pegg is somewhat less so – dents the romance angle a bit, and packing the story into one night does mean the back half feels increasingly forced (thankfully, the plot does contain a few twists). But if the “rom” side of things doesn’t really take off, the “com” provides a fairly steady stream of laughs thanks to cartoony supporting cast. It ticks all the boxes, some less interestingly than others – the traditional “insights” into male-female relationships are duller than usual – leaving Bell’s warmly funny performance (and well-maintained UK accent) to bring proceedings to life.
Reviewed by Anthony Morris