Man Up starts with Nancy (Lake Bell) trying to muster up the courage to meet a blind date at a tropical-themed engagement party. Of course, the date doesn’t pan out. If it had, this would have been the shortest romcom ever. Instead it’s yet another disillusion in a long line of disillusions and disappointments.
Shortly after, Nancy finds herself on the train to visit her parent for their 40th wedding anniversary celebration and ends up talking to the perky Jessica (Ophelia Lovibond). Jessica is on her way to Waterloo Station where she is going to meet to a man who she’s been set up with by a mutual friend. He will recognize her by the self-help book she’ll be carrying under her arm. But a misunderstanding leaves Nancy holding the book and in the exact spot where Jessica was supposed to meet Jack (Simon Pegg), a nervously chatty divorcee. Impulsively, Nancy pretends to be Jessica and ends up having a great time on her date.
If the story sounds cheesy, it’s because it is. And the clichés keep on coming. Next to the mistaken identity, there is a spontaneous dance routine. Eventually there are hurt feelings. And of course, there is a grand finale involving an even grander gesture where everything works out. Some of these scenes feel really stale. Especially the ending is just awkward. But the movie somewhat redeems itself thanks to writer Tess Morris’ dialogues and the chemistry between Bell and Pegg.
Man Up is far from perfect, but at least it ends up being a mostly enjoyable way to spend 88 minutes.