“Man Up” is the sort of British import that gives romantic comedies a good name.
Frequently laugh-out-loud funny and tangibly tender where it ought to be, the immensely satisfying screwball romp feels freshly contemporary even as it largely conforms to genre conventions.
Sporting a nifty English accent, American actress Lake Bell plays the stubbornly single Nancy, 34, who’s en route to her parents’ 40th anniversary party. At the train station, she’s mistaken for the blind date of Jack, played by Simon Pegg.
Rather than cop to the mix-up, Nancy opts to see where that assumed identity will take her, and the pair proceeds to have quite the memorable night out on the town.
When you’ve got two game, legitimately funny performers as the delightful Bell and the acerbic Pegg, that’s half the battle. But the other end is more than capably held up by a smart, tart script by Tess Morris and briskly effervescent direction by TV comedy director Ben Palmer.
The entertaining result, while not exactly pushing the entrenched rom-com in any brave new directions, could do worse than evoking prime Richard Curtis, the screenwriter who, with on-screen assistance from Hugh Grant, raised the bar back in the ‘90s with “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “Notting Hill.”
MPAA rating: None
Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes.
Playing: Sundance Sunset, Los Angeles.