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Man Up


Stars: Simon Pegg, Lake Bell, Rory Kinnear, Harriet Walter, Olivia Williams, Ken Stott, Ophelia Lovibond, Stephen Campbell Moore, Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Sharon Horgan

Director: Ben Palmer

Simon Pegg is a likeable guy on screen, but he's had little luck with films he's made outside the Star Trek franchise, and the comedies he's made with Nick Frost. This is another fairly painful example, a romcom that's a bit rom but not very com.

Hollywood's Bell, with an astoundingly good London accent, is Nancy, the unmarried despair of her family and prepared to give up at 34 (really?). On the train to her parents' 40th anniversary, she finds herself sitting opposite Jessica (a barely-there part for Lovibond), who's on her way to a blind date with soon-to-be- divorced Jack (Pegg), which Nancy accidentally commandeers.

Things are going well, until a lecherous old schoolfriend of Nancy's (Kinnear) recognises her and, sizing up the situation, blackmails her into an assignation in the toilet, which is interrupted by Jack, causing Nancy to spill the beans...

The problem here is the central relationship: Pegg and Bell have little enough chemistry as it is, without being encouraged by the director to raise their voices to each other throughout.

Nor is the script much help: 'You need to let me get on with my single-man midlife crisis,' yells Pegg, 'and keep your cynical wisecracks to yourself.' She's encouraging though. 'You're an emotional jigsaw,' she tells him, 'but you're going to piece yourself back together.'

Everything about the film smacks of exaggeration for its own sake, with Williams and Campbell Moore faring little better than Lovibond, as sounding-boards for Pegg's spluttering angst. Best bits are the first few minutes, and the last few, as Pegg fights to re-locate the woman he's let go.

David Quinlan

UK 2014. UK Distributor: StudioCanal. Colour (unspecified).
88 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 25 May 2015