Man Up
dir Ben Palmer
scr Tess Morris
prd James Biddle, Nira Park, Rachael Prior
with Lake Bell, Simon Pegg, Rory Kinnear, Ophelia Lovibond, Olivia Williams, Sharon Horgan, Ken Stott, Stephen Campbell Moore, Harriet Walter, Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Dean-Charles Chapman, Robert Wilfort
release UK 29.May.15
15/UK StudioCanal 1h28
Man Up
Date night: Pegg and Bell

kinnear lovibond williams
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Man Up A refreshing take on the romantic-comedy, this British romp never makes any pretence about its predictable plot, entertaining the audience with lively characters, sassy dialog and hilarious set-pieces. It also features superbly engaging central performances by Pegg and Bell, plus a riotous supporting cast.

Nancy (Bell) is on her way to celebrate her parents' (Stott and Walter) 40th anniversary, moaning to her sister Elaine (Horgan) on the phone about being single. Then after chatting to the chirpy Jessica (Lovibond), she inadvertently steals her blind date with Jack (Pegg) on arrival at Waterloo Station, reasoning that she needs to be more impulsive about what life throws her way. She also finds it hilarious that Jack fails to notice that she's not the promised 24-year-old triathlete. What follows is a night on the town that takes several unexpected ups and downs.

Director Palmer and writer Morris clearly understand the demands of the genre, and have a lot of fun throwing Nancy and Jack together then ripping them apart. Clearly they are great for each other, but they also push each others' buttons. Pegg and Bell bring their usual hesitant charm to the roles, creating characters who are smart and funny but also somewhat awkward in most situations. Their banter zings with witty one-liners, and there's some jittery underlying emotion too.

It also helps that the side characters are thoroughly amusing, including a not-quite-accidental meeting with Jack's ex (Williams) and her new man (Campbell Moore). But the film's main antagonist is Kinnear as a guy who had a crush on Nancy in school, and still does. His stalker-like behaviour is annoying and uproarious in equal measure. So even if the plot hinges on a couple of coincidences as well as a suspiciously extended timescale, its ripples and bends are thoroughly entertaining.

Palmer directs the film with an energetic sense of physicality, sharply capturing the feel of a raucous night out in London. And the script and performances constantly add character details that draw the audience in, reminding us of every dodgy date we've ever been on, as well as that hope against hope that someday we'll meet the one. So even if the expected ending goes a bit over the top with the smiley mayhem, it's difficult not to feel a pang of emotion.

cert 15 themes, language, some violence 18.Dec.14

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