I’m not much for romantic comedies. My Dad is. He hasn’t adequately explained why, but I think it’s because he likes knowing that when he starts a movie, it’s going to end well. Because that’s how romantic comedies work. It’s not romantic if they don’t end up together.
So the real test of a romantic comedy is the conceit and the actors. Pair up two popular or polar opposite actors and put them in a ridiculous situation. I’ll watch Simon Pegg in literally anything so I’m already hooked. Man Up’s unique conceit is that Lake Bell is in the wrong place at the right time and is confused for Simon’s real date. Being hopeless in love, Lake Bell decides to just go along with it because Simon quoted Silence of the Lambs or something.
The movie’s strengths are in its leads. Simon Pegg is equal parts charming and believable as the 40 year old divorcee thinking he’s on a date with a 24 year old. But this is Bell’s movie through and through. She is hilarious. She can act. She puts every piece of dialogue out there with confidence. And she can pull off one hell of a British accent.
The couple are just fun to be with. The stakes are fairly low throughout, and the whole charade of the wrong date dissipates pretty quickly. There are questionable choices – the creepy stalker and the ending scene, but overall it moves quick and stays smart.
A decent rom-com elevated by it’s two wonderful leads.
2 1/2 out of 4 stars.