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British Flm Review: Man Up
Directed By Ben Palmer
In Ben Palmer's new movie we are introduced to a seriously dysfunctional pair (Simon Pegg and Lake Bell), thrown together by one of these steadily snowballing cascade-disasters (involving a cringingly popular self-help manual) which only occur in romantic comedies. But to call Man-Up a rom-com would be doing it a disservice. Instead, Screenwriter Tess Morris starts with the idea of romance- then goes at it with a chainsaw.
Nancy (Bell) is 34 year old singleton with cat pictures in her wallet, and an aversion to social events- which we suddenly understand when witnessing her attempts at small talk with a prospective match. She would rather hide out in a hotel room with ice-cream and 80's movies. Jack (Pegg) seems like the ideal guy, with a kind of witty charm which he uses to hide his nerves and cover hers. One chance encounter with his ex wife later, and this facade collapses like so much termite-eaten cardboard. At first glance these two seem to be made for each other. So what could go wrong? Let's put it another way: what couldn't go wrong? At one point, one character deploys a fire extinguisher on another (Sample dialogue: "That was a tactical puke!").
Fanciful though the story may get, Nancy and Jack fight real problems (and real demons). Their characters (while treading a fine line between scary and charming) are always recognizable. Writer Morris uses her script to skewer just about every relationship cliché you find in the genre: romantic gestures, sex-life in a relationship, social media, the college-crush; it's all done with a kind of mean exuberance which has you enjoying almost every line without realising it.
The result: two hours of excellent and unpredictable chaos, spent in the company of likeable characters, played by two actors we don't see enough of.
MAN UP is released on DVD & Blu-ray 28 September 2015.
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