MAN UP, UK. Starring Lake Bell, Simon Pegg, Rory Kinnear, Olivia Williams, Ophelia Lovibond, Henry Lloyd- Hughes, Sharon Horgan, Stephen Campbell Moore, Ken Stott, Harriet Walter. Directed by Ben Palmer. 88 minutes. Rated M. (No consumer information offered)
Man Up as a title does not do justice to this comedy, with serious undertones. It is an amusing film with an appeal for both men and women in middle age, whether undergoing their crisis, or anticipating one, or just interested how men and women tick at this age.
It is something of a comedy of errors. Lake Bell is particularly good as Nancy, and with a British accent, a 34-year-old who has been for some years getting over a broken relationship, has a career as a journalist, something we don’t see much of, and is being urged on, especially by her married sister, to date and to make some romantic connections. We first see her invited to an engagement party, backing out, having room service at the hotel, being hounded to go down and being pushed to meet someone with whom she has no rapport.
Next day, on the train, she meets a rather prissy young career woman, Jessica (Olivia Lovibond) who is reading a bestseller on relationships, giving Nancy a little lecture, and leaving the book for Nancy to pick up. Jessica has planned to meet on a blind date a man under the clock at Waterloo Station. As Nancy hurries to give back the book (while Jessica is buying another one), Jack (Simon Pegg), who has been waiting, mistakes Nancy for Jessica. And the cautious Nancy throws caution to the winds and goes on a date with Jack, he incessantly talking, taking her to a bar, their having drinks, going to a bowling alley and exercising rivalry, going to another bar when Nancy meets Sean (Rory Kinnear in a somewhat over the top comic performance) who has had a crush on Nancy and causes her to reveal the truth before she was ready.
Some more rivalry and an encounter with Jack’s ex-wife and her boyfriend – with Nancy deciding to play up her connection with Jack, much to the amazement of his ex-wife, and with some slapstick consequences.
In the meantime, Nancy should have been at her parents 40th wedding anniversary to give the speech. Eventually she does get there, but so does Jack, relying on the good offices of Sean (which he should not have), and things get more or less sorted out to everyone’s satisfaction (except Sean’s).
There is quite an amount of witty and entertaining dialogue, audiences probably enjoying the farcical situations and the mixups, and probably pleased to see romance winning out for this middle-aged couple.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Studiocanal Released November 5th