#37 MAN UP
Starring Lake Bell, Simon Pegg Rory Kinear, Ophelia Lovibond, Sharon Horgan,
Written by Tess Morris and directed by Ben Palmer. 88 minutes short.
RomComs, I love them! Seriously, beneath this cold, grim exterior there beats the heart of an eternal romantic, married 26 years still buying flowers and shit for the wife, plus I well up faster than a sink hole on a flood plain, so I needed no inclination to go and see this.
The simply brilliant Lake Bell is Nancy, a 34 year-old, relationship-phobic, singleton with over four years on the clock. Simon (I'm a serious actor, me) Pegg is 40-something Jack, coming up to a year since his wife left him for his best friend and still seriously tramuatised by the experience. Their lives collide when Nancy, on her way to her parent's 40th wedding anniversary to give a speech, is mistaken by Jack to be Jessica - his blind date for the day - at Waterloo station due to a mix up over a book (it's too difficult to explain, you'll have to trust me on this, it's not that important).
ANYWAY, they meet up and the film follows them on their first all important date. It starts awkwardly, as I suppose all blind dates do, but then they click over what must be the world's most expensive bowling game ever, I mean seriously the number of shots and bottles of beer these two neck must have cost a ruddy fortune, plus they seem to play like a dozen games, and ten pin bowling isn't cheap, no sirree! I mean our local Hollywood Bowl charges £5.75 per game and the one in the film charges £39 per lane, that's for one game, so let's say they play three games that's close to 120 quid, before the booze! Blimey, these two must be seriously loaded, plus he owns his own flat in London and he's a Online Brand Manager and we discover that Jessica works in the City so I suppose they can afford to have a first date like this. By Christ, my first date with Pet was a stage play in London, plus a drink or two, so 20 quid tops.
ANYWAY, a romantic, screwball comedy (for this is surely one of those) wouldn't be a romantic screwball comedy if everything went swimmingly and the spanner-sized fly in the ointment in this film, is Rory Kinear's uber-creepy barman, Sean - who went to school with Nancy and knows she's not the Jessica that Jack keeps calling her. Sean is Nancy's very own stalker and even has a photograph of her sleeping in her childhood bedroom in his wallet, which he shows her to prove how much he loves her. When she explains her deceit to Sean, he threatens to tell Jack she's not Jessica unless she gives him a blow job in the toilet, something I don't think Greogry Peck ever did to Audrey Hepburn, but then times change.
ANYWAY, to cut a long story short, actually it's not that long a film, but the getting to this bit in the plot seems to take quite a while, Jack discovers that Nancy, isn't the Jessica he was expecting to meet he goes somewhat off the rails and the two fall out quite spectacularly so it's obvious we're already at the Girl loses Boy stage of the Girl meets Boy, Girl loses Boy, Girl get Boy back RomCom equation. However, because this isn't the real world, there then follows an 'only in the movies' race around London to retrieve the plot's Macguffin, a lost manpurse containing an all-important note book, don't ask, it's complicated before the big glorious pay off.
This is a funny film, admittedly not the funniest ever made but it certainly doesn't outstay its welcome and Lake Bell is simply brilliant, Pegg less so but that might be because of his hair and also his character is slightly unhinged and desperate, but to give him his dues he knows comedy and his timing is perfect and the two of them spark quite nicely off each other. Ticking all the boxes you'd expect from a RomCom, even a screwball comedy variety, this does what it says on the tin and leaves you with a warm fuzzy glow in your chest. Plus it has a brilliant theory about sex and the blowjob paradox and a genuinely brilliant failed date sequence at the top of the film that's used to introduce Lake Bell's character.
By the way, Lake has to be singled out for having the best English accent I've ever heard from an American actor, male or female. She totally gets the inflection and better still swears like an Englishmen.
A nice date film, probably best seen with someone.