Now showing in Hong Kong

Film review: Man Up – Simon Pegg and Lake Bell hit it off in heartless, tasteless rom-com

Sharp dialogue and cynicism rule as unlikely couple go on a blind date in a comedy that is all whirlwind and no romance

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 July, 2016, 10:01am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 July, 2016, 10:01am

2/5 stars

A ruthless rom-com for the Tinder age, Ben Palmer’s London-set love match is speedy, amusing and utterly, utterly heartless. American actress Lake Bell, here going full Bridget Jones (English accent, constant snacking, repeated pratfalling), is the thirty-something singleton who, despite exercising her right to not settle for a loser, ends up on a blind date with one, in the form of Simon Pegg’s divorcee.

Somehow, despite a series of credulity-stretching misunderstandings, and Pegg’s manic charmlessness, they hit it off. But why?

“Not only do you steal someone else’s date, you stand up your parents on one of the most important milestones of their life,” says Pegg of her startling selfishness. He, meanwhile, was hoping to meet a 24-year-old triathlete, gloats about “winning” the flat from his ex-wife, and proclaims the shallow, shouty Wall Street (1987) to be one of his favourite films. Maybe they deserve each other after all: their arguments are certainly more convincingly than their ardour.

Thanks to Tess Morris’s sharp dialogue and Bell’s natural warmth, the film moves along at an entertaining clip. But too many elements leave a nasty taste for it to fully win us over. Pegg confesses that he’s late because – audible tut – someone threw themself under his train; while a despicable recurring joke involves creepy suitor Rory Kinnear trying to blackmail/threaten Bell into sex.

Palmer tries everything he can to force us to muster some enthusiasm for this cynical pair – a flash mob here, an Elbow track there – but it’s all whirlwind, no romance.

Man Up opens on July 7

Want more articles like this? Follow SCMP Film on Facebook