Monday, 8 June 2015

Man Up (4½ Stars)

Fuck the past!

I knew this film would be good. After all, it stars Simon Pegg, one of the funniest men on the planet, so it can't go wrong, can it? And yet, it still surprised me by being even better than I expected.

First the plot: Jack (Simon Pegg) is a 40-year-old man going through a divorce. His friend Tom (who we never see in the film) has arranged him a blind date with his 24-year-old friend Jessica. 16 years age difference? Not too much, I suppose. They arrange to meet at Victoria Station, under a clock, identifying themselves by each holding a copy of the self-help book "Six billion people and you". On the train to London Jessica meets Nancy, a 34-year-old woman who has been single for three years and is too insecure to look for a new partner. Jessica gives Nancy her copy of the book, because she thinks she needs it, planning to buy herself a new copy at the station. Nancy walks into the station, book in hand, and is approached by Jack who thinks she's Jessica. Mistaken identity on a blind date? Yes, that's an easy enough mistake for Jack to make, and an easy enough mistake for Nancy to put right, but Jack is nervous and talks so much that Nancy can't get a word in edgeways. By the time he shuts up Nancy decides to pretend to be Jessica and go on the date.

It's a funny little story, maybe not so realistic in the year 2015. 20 years ago a couple on a blind date might have carried a book to identify themselves, but in today's high tech age they would send one another a photo of themselves by phone. But let's overlook that small matter and talk about what the film does right.

The film's comedy is so good because it hits home with painful accuracy It's something the audience can relate to. It's a nightmare trying to find a new partner in a big impersonal city like London. Neither Jack nor Nancy are shy, but they feel awkward with one another and don't know what to say. Rather than say nothing they say the wrong things. Jack has reached the critical Four-O point and probably hasn't dated anyone for years. Nancy has given up looking for a man because she feels she's passed her sell-by date. When we laugh at Jack and Nancy we're really laughing at ourselves.

It's a great film. You'll enjoy it, especially if you're single. It might encourage you to take chances in life. If you never take a risk you'll never succeed.

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