Film Review: Man Up

by Evan Brown

Rated M. Starring Simon Pegg, Lake Bell. Directed by Ben Palmer.

“Right time, right place, wrong date”

All my friends have gotten married.

I haven’t had a date in years.

All my friends have started to buy their own houses.

I’m struggling to pay rent.

All my friends have started to have kids.

I can’t even keep alive the cactus that Elaine gave me along with the reassuring statement “the man at the shop said that this plant is near-impossible to kill”.

Ever find yourself thinking similar thoughts?  Don’t worry because you’re not alone and British director Ben Palmer has made a whole film about it!

Man Up is the latest romantic comedy to hit our shores from the UK.  Don’t fret though, just because it’s English doesn’t mean Hugh Grant is going to come and disgrace our screen with his incomprehensible mumbling.  Fortunately for us Man Up follows the character of Nancy (Bell) whose vernacular is quite comprehensible.

Nancy is a cynical 34-year-old single woman who (despite her friend’s efforts of setting her up) prefers to stay at home and eat junk food rather than go out looking for a suitable partner.  Now jaded with the world and her situation of being forever-alone Nancy has given up on the search and has resorted to a life of singleness, cynicism and crisps (crisps = chips).  Just as we think all hope is lost for this girl, in a strange turn of events and a case of mistaken identity Nancy finds herself unintentionally on a blind date with Jack (Simon Pegg).  Instead of coming clean and admitting to her date she is not who he thinks she is (in this case a girl named Jessica) Nancy decides to ‘seize the day’ (#YOLO) and see where it takes her.

Perhaps Jack could be the man she has been (not) looking for all this time?

As you would expect from any movie with Simon Pegg in it, hilarity ensues when the date progresses and we see Nancy try to squirm her way out of all the awkward situations her lie has put her in.

The battle that Nancy is constantly facing is one of identity.  Will she embrace the new identity of Jessica the fun-loving triathlete?  Or will she be true to herself and reveal her true identity – the cynical and negative Nancy that likes to eat burgers alone on the couch?

As a Christian I find I too am constantly battling with identity.  The identity of my old self where I did not know God’s love, and my new self where it is in Christ that I find my identity.  The Apostle Paul urges us to take off our old identity by putting to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature (Colossians 3:5) and take up our new identity in Christ by clothing ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (Colossians 3:9).

In a world that revolves around comparative social media it is very easy to measure our own identity to others.  As Christians we can find comfort knowing that our new identity is found in Christ and that has value beyond all measure (like a pearl of infinite worth you might say!).

Man Up is a breath of fresh air in the romantic comedy genre.  It’s more comedy than romance (typical of a Simon Pegg movie) and those dreaded cliché storylines that are usually associated with this genre are non-existent.

Bell and Pegg have believable chemistry on-set and it was quite entertaining watching their on-screen banter develop as the movie progressed.  Once you get over Lake Bell’s ridiculous bangs and Pegg’s receding hairline you start to really feel for their characters.  There’s also a few crude moments here, though all in all, Man Up wouldn’t be a bad movie to take someone on a first date. Three-and-a-half stars.

Man Up is released in Australian cinemas this Thursday 5th November, and in the US on Friday 13th November.

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