Review: Man Up

Pegg's mistaken identity proves that love really is blind


In the age of social networking blind dates have surely bitten the dust. It is now possible to find out almost everything about an individual ahead of meeting them, which takes all the mystery out of a clandestine rendezvous. But what if you inadvertently wound up on someone else's blind date? That is the premise conjured up by first-time script-writer Tess Morris and it's a good one, though Ben Palmer's British romcom does at times feel more like a pilot for a TV comedy series than a feature.

It certainly has enough sustainable characters for a series with cynical singleton Nancy (Lake Bell) playing the unlucky-in-love lead who gets into an awkward conversation with Jessica, an overly optimistic stranger on a train (Ophelia Lovibond) only to wind up in possession of her self-help book. Unbeknown to Nancy the book is the pink carnation substitute that will help Jack (Simon Pegg) identify his "blind date" under Waterloo station's clock tower.

Rather than admit to the misunderstanding, Nancy pretends to be Jessica and the couple head off for what quickly becomes a great night out in Soho. They are clearly suited, what with the shared love of bolognese, bowling and movie quotes (Silence of the Lambs is referenced more than once). But when a daft stalker (Rory Kinnear) from Nancy's schooldays threatens to expose her real identity, this fortuitous meeting of like-minded lonely hearts starts to unravel. Lake Bell (her dad's Jewish) is a very winning American actress who pulls off a suburban British accent with the same aplomb as Renée Zellweger in Bridget Jones, though Nancy isn't nearly as likeable because of the inconsistent way she veers from disillusioned sweetheart to super-confident sex expert.

She does however provide Jack with the mental armour he needs to deal with the ex-wife (Olivia Williams) who jilted him, and that showdown is one of the film's highlights.

Top marks go to Pegg who instils the right amount of humour and good-naturedness into Jack who is the kind of guy you'd hope to meet on a blind date.

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