• Review: Man Up (2015)

    From David N. Butterworth@21:1/5 to All on Tue Nov 22 07:48:31 2016
    MAN UP (2015)
    A film review by David N. Butterworth
    Copyright 2016 David N. Butterworth

    **1/2 (out of ****)

    The producers of the inconsequentially-titled rom-com "Man Up" appear to
    have assumed that the winning chemistry between the appealing Simon Pegg
    and the equally affable Lake Bell would be enough to carry the picture
    without much assistance from an actual scriptwriter.
    And they were right!
    That's not to say that "Man Up" couldn't have been a better movie--a *much* better movie--had Pegg and Lake, as 40-year-old divorcee Jack and preternaturally-single 34-year-old Nancy, thrust together by happenstance,
    been given some funny things to say or do. Heck, Pegg and Lake could have given *themselves* something funny to say or do, since each has proven
    fairly adept in the screenwriting department before now--Pegg as co-scribe
    of Edgar Wright's "Cornetto trilogy" of films ("Shaun of the Dead," "Hot
    Fuzz," and "The World's End"), for example, and Bell as writer/director of
    "In a World...," her debut feature from 2013.
    But just watching Pegg and Bell hanging out together, and playing off
    each other (as, admittedly, characters we've seen before), warrants a
    marginal thumbs-up despite the lackluster screenplay (by Tess Morris) and
    the overworked direction (by "The Inbetweeners"' Ben Palmer).
    The film *does* find substantive support in the guise of Rory Kinnear ("The Imitation Game") as creepy middle school chum Sean and Sharon Horgan (Amazon Originals' "Catastrophe") as Nancy's got-her-act-together sister Elaine. Come to think of it, even Horgan, as writer and co-star of several edgy television Britcoms (the previously mentioned "Catastrophe" as well as "Pulling" and "Little Crackers") could have given Pegg and Lake something
    funny to say or do too.
    Did anyone think to ask one of these three talented actor-writers to
    write this thing as well as act in it? It sounds like a bit of a
    no-brainer in hindsight.
    In "Man Up," Nancy, heading to London for her parents' 40th wedding anniversary do, is mistaken for Jack's blind date under the clock at
    Waterloo station. Regularly encouraged by her sister to "put yourself out there," Nancy decides to throw caution to the wind and just go with it. Needless to say complications, and occasional funny ones, ensue.
    But that's all by the by. Pegg and Bell click in "Man Up" and, as
    those wacky producers of theirs gambled, that decision proves winning

    David N. Butterworth

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