Directed by the genius behind Bo’ Selecta! and Inbetweeners, Ben Palmer, Man Up is as typical, a British rom-com can get. With its hilarity, sentimentality and heart-warming promise, it is a must for fans of the genre. When middle-aged Nancy (Lake Bell) is mistaken for Jack’s (Simon Pegg) blind date, she goes along with it and discovers he is the perfect boyfriend for her – but how to tell him she is not really who she says she is?
Newcomer Bell is great as the socially awkward singleton desperately searching for her soulmate, and she depicts a relatable character many middle-aged women will empathise with. Pegg, Bell’s partnered protagonist, anchors the film wonderfully, not just in his own consistently funny way, but his vastly improving acting ability at a melodramatical level. Palmer has formulated a generally funny rom-com, which will occasionally make some cringe rather than laugh, but perspective aside, the film warms-hearts, no matter how predictable the ending is even from the opening few scenes.
The film is remarkably British, from the train station they find themselves meeting at, the bars they make first date small talk at and to the centre of London they wander through. Like every rom-com, it has faults, but it is typical because of these imperfections, and of course, it is set in the heart of Britain – of course it is a rom-com! It may not appeal to those who are not fans of the genre, but those who are should bounce up and down in excitement for their much-loved genre being revitalized – and it may just appeal to Americans the same way Notting Hill did almost a couple decades ago.