3.5 out 5 stars
Life as an adult in the dating scene can be a harrowing affair. People bring a significant amount of baggage into the relationship and this can cause the relationship to buckle under the weight. This is the setting for Simon Pegg’s latest venture into comedy with a bit of romance on the side.
We are introduced to Nancy (Lake Bell) as she heads to celebrate the 40th anniversary of her parents. She has a chance encounter with a young lady who is going on a blind date. Through a series of coincidences, Nancy ends up mistaken as the woman who was meant to be on the blind date. As she goes along with the ruse, she is introduced to and surprisingly enjoyed the time with Jack (Simon Pegg). Each of them has to work through a series of relational pitfalls, but find that the mistake may have been just the thing each one of them needed. Even though they eventually discover that they are not the people that were meant to at the beginning of the date. Man Up proves to be a mature, yet refreshing twist on the blind date romance. This film also gives rise to two key discussion points within this genre. One is the ‘everyman’ lead and the other is the differences between American and British romantic comedies.
Let’s look at the first of these considerations, as Simon Pegg positions himself as a comedic force in modern cinema. He has moved past the cult figure of Shaun of the Dead and plucky sidekick in Star Trek and Mission Impossible's mainstream franchises. He has managed to establish himself as the new everyman. Pegg is developing a niche for himself as an unsuspecting lead actor. The everyman is the actor who seems to travel between film genres successfully and is appealing to a broader audience base. He is an actor people can relate to because he represents what most people think they would react to in these cinematic situations.
In Man Up, Pegg is not merely the comic relief, but successfully leads the performances within this romantic comedy. He has the depth to manage the drama, but is exceptionally endearing within the comedic scenarios. Bell and Pegg's performances both manage to make this film appealing and enjoyable. It has its laugh-out-loud moments and includes serious components by playing on both actors' comic genius. Even though the storyline can suffer from the traditional romantic comedy's predictability, it does go on to give this genre a refreshing spin. It is worth a look for the romantically inclined.
Comparison within the world of the rom-com: The British tradition incorporates darkness and bluntness that differs from the American style, which tends to offer subtlety and softness in the delivery. The British style tends toward the melancholic, while the US equivalent has a lighter heart. Irony is a tool of the British film, while hope is the vehicle of the American tradition. Language usage and sexual conversation lack any subtlety in the world of English cinema. Simultaneously, the American film would include the hopeful chase scene that brings together the lovers within a sunset backdrop. Followed by the ten-year scenario that would roll throughout the credits to give us all the satisfaction of knowing how they went on to love one another.
In the end, both styles work, but deliver a different look at relationships and comedy. Man Up stays true to the British tradition and may have provided the world with a new leading man. This is a romance for adults only, but will make the single adult laugh out loud at the circumstances set in the reality of modern dating.
Reel Dialogue: Is romance meant to make us laugh?
Romantic comedies are a fascinating genre to consider for a Christian writer. The Bible has quite a bit to say about relationships and how men and women should treat one another. Love is a reassuring theme throughout the biblical narrative and is at the heart of the most treasured commandments.
Song of Solomon gives married couples a standard for romance and the value of sex within a married relationship. Another consideration from this film genre is the idea of laughter. We are encouraged to laugh and can know that even God laughs. The rom-com may not seem to be the door to deeper conversations, but the opportunities are there. After watching a romantic comedy it is subtle. Still, like a good relationship, it is the subtlety that provides the spark to start the fire of love between a potential husband and wife.