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Review: Man Up - Seize the night

BY Mark Reynolds

1st Jan 2015 Film & TV

Review: Man Up - Seize the night

Writer Tess Morris’s feature debut is a spirited rom-com with a fine central performance by New Yorker Lake Bell as a London singleton who makes the most of a case of mistaken identity.

In a swift prologue, we meet Nancy (Bell), holed up in a hotel bedroom watching old films as she avoids the unwelcome pressures of an awkward date at a friend’s wedding. As she forces herself downstairs to the after-party, her foot-in-mouth tendencies are all too apparent, and she leaves resolved to duck out of the dating scene once and for all.

On the way home the next day, hungover and bitter, she happens beneath the iconic clock at London Waterloo and is mistaken by 40-something soon-to-be-divorced Jack (Simon Pegg) for his blind date Jessica. Bemused and attracted in equal measure, Nancy decides she’ll be Jessica for the night to see how things pan out – aware that she’s expected at her parent’s place the same evening to give a speech at a family gathering to mark their 40th anniversary.

From this classic ‘what if?’ trope, Jack and Nancy/Jessica embark on a high-octane boozy trail of London nightspots, drawing ever closer, and winding up in a bowling alley where Nancy is recognised by creepy barman and former schoolmate Sean (Rory Kinnear) who still has the hots for her – and the capacity to blow her cover.

Man Up

In short shrift the pair also encounter Jack’s icy ex Hilary (Olivia Williams) on her own date with her dreary new lover – and it turns out it was Jack’s ploy all along to try to make Hilary believe he too is capable of moving on – and to ignite some spark of jealousy even as he signs the divorce papers.

So will Jack and Nancy get it together? Of course they will, but the statutory rom-com ending is a minor blip in an otherwise engaging and entertaining comic set-piece full of sharp one-liners. And Lake Bell’s Nancy could certainly teach Renée Zellweger’s Bridget a thing or two about tackling an English accent and grabbing her bloke.

Man Up is in cinemas now. Visit the Reader's Digest Shop for the latest film releases. 

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