There are a lot of tropes usually found in the rom com genre. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl hit it off. Boy and girl get in fight. Boy races against the clock to get back girl. Roll credits while everyone in the audience are in tears. With Man Up, it's about time you forgot those clichés. It's a rom com that grabs the clichés, pushes them forcefully into a small, chewy ball and then throws this ball across the room and watches as it bounces back into its lap. Weird description, I know, but once you see the movie, you'll know it's true.
Man Up follows the story of Nancy (Lake Bell), a single woman in her thirties who just can't hit it off with men, as evident by an extremely awkward blind date she's set up on during the start of the film. While taking a train to her parents house in London one day, Nancy sits next to a young woman, Jessica (Ophelia Lovibond), who's getting ready for a date with a man she's never met. The two intend on meeting each other using a book they've both read, but once they get to the final stop, Jessica leaves her book behind. Nancy attempts to rush through the crowds, attempting to find her and return her book, but she happens to run into Jessica's date, Jack (Simon Pegg). Not sure what to do, Nancy pretends to be Jessica, and so the two of them go on a blind date, Jack not realising he's with the wrong person.
Taking centre stage in this film are Lake Bell and Simon Pegg. They're the two actors we spent the majority of this runtime with, some characters coming and going, but none playing too major of a role. The two have phenomenal chemistry and this shows on screen. They manage to continuously encourage each other to keep the scene rolling, no moment ever feeling as if it was dragging. They bounce jokes off of each other and practically all of these jokes hit. They hit really well, as a matter of fact.
That's the thing about this movie, too. It's absolutely hysterical. There's the odd joke here and there that falls a little flat, but when Simon Pegg and Lake Bell are on screen together, everything works. It's their moments apart that aren't quite as funny. The scenes still work and I enjoyed this film as a whole, but it's nothing in comparison to the hilarity they bring when the two of them share the screen. I adore Simon Pegg in everything he's in and while I haven't seen Lake Bell in too many things, she won me over with this movie.
Watching the two of them go on this blind, and accidental, date was a joyous viewing. Watching them have fun and crack jokes, all while you know it's not going to end well, is a lot of fun to watch. The problem is, it does take a little too long to put the rest of the plot in full effect, although the film is only 88 minutes long so there's not a lot to really cut. It's not that I wanted anything to be cut, either. It's just that there's not a lot of plot development, despite the large time frame spent on it. It's not really until past halfway through the film that anything else significant happens.
This significant event introduces us to a character named Sean, played by Rory Kinnear. Rory Kinnear has played an important role in the last three James Bond movies and for that reason alone, I like him as an actor. He can act, and he clearly chooses good roles, but his character here just got under my skin. He's somewhat of a stalker who appears from Nancy's past and his character just wasn't funny. The scenes he's in are awkward and his performance is occasionally cringe-worthy. He has a couple of solid laughs, but other than that, I just wasn't a fan.
Man Up is a film that tries so hard to avoid clichés that it's kind of disappointing to find it ends on such a predictable note. Now, don't get me wrong. I liked the ending. It's sweet and touching, but it's the ending you see in every single type of movie like this. They play a hip song, there's a few touching moments and I smile. It works. I've just seen it dozens of times before, and that was a rather disappointing aspect about this otherwise decent movie.
To sum up, Man Up is a romantic comedy that plays around the clichés you'd normally find in the genre. It's hilarious, sweet and the two leads, Simon Pegg and Lake Bell, work really well together. Not a fantastic movie, but it's entertaining enough.