Proof that the phrase ‘Romantic Comedy’ shouldn’t always fill you with dread.
Being single, for the most part, sucks. It can really suck. It’s one of the few statuses that every human being has an opinion on. Well-meaning friends and family will offer advice – be that in the form of tips, well-wishes or sharing of their own stories (‘I know what it’s like! I’ve been there! I nearly gave up until she/he came along!’) Then there is the constant pushing along, making sure you are ‘out there’. And in modern day terms ‘out there’ comes in three common forms.
1) Getting chatted up in a public place: “Y’know I’m the perfect height for those…!” (The first, and only, words once tried on me by a 5ft 5in man. True story.)
2) Online dating: “Hey! Do you want me to be the prince to rescue you, Princess? ;)” (Also a true story)
3) Friend of a friend: “You’re totally perfect for each other!” Then you met and wonder what your friend actually thinks of you. (Another true story.)
Then you meet someone vaguely interesting and go on a date, like a proper grown-up. You sit, you chat and try to akwardly form a connection. Then he asks if you take after your mum, and if your mum is single…(Okay, ignore that last part. Although, regrettably, that is another true story…)
Apologies for my veering into autobiography, but I thought it best to exemplify just how grim the world of modern dating can be. Now I can return back to the reason you are, probably/hopefully, reading this. ‘Man Up’ reflects all of these traumas and angst perfectly. In fact it is the only film I can currently think of which does not judge or condem the main character for her singledom. Yes, there are some rather overly famillar tropes used to demonstrate that Nancy (as played brilliant by Lake Bell) is single. She has two pet cats (a photo of which have pride of place in her purse), she gives herself a pep talk in the mirror prior to a set-up and she has a (perhabs deservedly) world-wearly cynism about romance. However, she is also the most real heroine you will find in a modern day romcom. She has a fantastic sense of humour, has some awkward habits and gets food stuck in her teeth. She doesn’t always look immaculate or do all the right things. Therefore, she represents a very real everywoman – or at least my kind of everywoman. (She does have superb film taste afterall!)
In case you’ve not seen the trailer, Nancy is mistaken by Jack (Simon Pegg) for being his blind date whilst stood under the clock at Waterloo station. Instead of doing the oh-so-British thing of correcting him, she finds herself lying and pretending to be his date. The film follows them on their date, and the aftermath of it. The date is realistic, with the awkard pauses and moments of meeting a new person on a first date. It is easy to root for them – as both Jack and Nacy are well rounded characters. They are given depth, like and dislikes, and, most importantly, back stories.Using the jigsaw analogy used in the film – they are broken jigsaw puzzles who seem to be missing the blue bits.
There are many stand out scenes within the film. My two personal favourites are the danceposition (dance + exposition) to Duran Duran’s ‘Reflex’, which is hillarious – well scripted and choreographed. Also, the swapping of the Moleskine (obviously!) notebooks to share introduction lists. Jack’s favourite band is ‘Lloyd Cole and The Commotions’ (I recommend https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fm5rMu3Wtr4) and his favourite drink is a Mojito. It has been statistically proven that a man who has two of these things cannot be a bad person (I am obviously lying, but they are pretty awesome favourite things).The chemistry between Nancy and Jack is fantastic, and watching them to get know each other is a joy.
At this point (Hi, if you’re still reading!) it must be clear to you that I liked this film. Really liked this film. Yes, it does veer on soppy at times. Certain elements are cliched or unlikely in real life. Yet, this didn’t stop me enjoying this film. Which, if you know me, should come as a huge surprise. In fact (queue mandatory eye roll!) it gave me hope. Just a little spark of hope, that all is not lost. Maybe, be that in via a meet-cute or online, I won’t die alone in a cinema with a bunch of cats (in-joke, apologies!) Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m off to order my Moleskine notebook (Star Wars, obviously!). I’ll write out my list of favourite things, and I’ll try not to be so cynical. Maybe it’s finally time for me to Man Up…