Man Up

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Lake Bell (In a World) takes on broad British romantic comedy, utterly transforming herself in this surprisingly fun bit of treacle. There is more than a little Jemima Rooper (What If) in her performance, but it never feels false, only a bit familiar. Opposite Simon Pegg (Mission: Impossible) the two are chemically simpatico, riffing on one another’s rhythms and jokes. There is never any doubt from the start where this has to end up, though the script by the lightly credited Morris certainly tries hard to keep the trials coming.

The biggest flaw in this film is that it is allowed to lose control just a bit too often. Unlike other, similar kinds of romcoms, such as Sliding Doors, the balance is a bit off. The comic moments are so broad that they break the story briefly, even though the moments of genuine heart are incredibly anchoring and well done. Basically, director Palmer is letting his Inbetweener’s background creep into a more adult story.

In the smaller roles, Ophelia Lovibond (Elementary) has a wonderfully catalytic role, and a nice arc. Others, such as Oliva Williams (An Education) and Rory Kinnear (The Casual Vacancy) are somewhat wasted due to their parts and direction in the story.

Despite any weakness, this is an entertaining comedy that believes in love without apology, but sneers at anyone who thinks getting there is an easy path.

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