MAN UP REVIEW

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Right leads. Wrong film.

An easygoing, if incredibly silly little rom com that does just enough to keep you smiling for 90 minutes.

A single woman (Lake Bell) who’s mistaken for a stranger’s blind date (Simon Pegg), leads to her finding the perfect boyfriend.

When Bell’s character Nancy first graced the screen, I could feel my face burrowing into my hands. And no! Not even in the guilty cringe manner. Her monotonous warbling and silly face pulling really didn’t sell it for me. Or get things going for that matter (I meant, in the context of the film. Come on, we’re better than that).

Her introduction didn’t fare well. It seemed to be needlessly rude. Desperate to keep in the same vein as The Inbetweeners. But that was only because it was made by (What do you know!) the same people.

Her impromptu comments about blow jobs and dead sisters at a wedding reception clearly established her poor social interaction skills but it was unnecessary. Especially when you could already relate to Nancy’s isolation and loneliness in her overlong opening conversation with the hotel room mirror. Luckily, her character does grow on you.

Lake Bell had an impeccable English accent. Rumours were that she kept in character until post production so no one knew she was American. Maybe a little too serious on the method acting but it worked.

Fed up and giving up on love at 34, things don’t seem to be going too well for Nancy. That is until a chance meeting with an insufferable chatterbox (The lovely Ophelia Lovibund. What?). Some waffle about a blind date and a self help book as their call sign. One things leads to another. Girl leaves book. Nancy tries to catch her. Cue Simon Pegg. Welcome, bienvenue.

As soon as Pegg entered the mix, sparks flew. Bell and Pegg had fantastic chemistry and really worked off each other. Things thankfully perked up. It was funny watching Nancy trying to blag through the date and pretending to be a 24 year old triathlete.

For a good portion of the film, it was easygoing, funny and I actually gave two monkeys about the couple. The premise was a little farfetched with everything supposed to happening during one night. Their silly theories, movie quotes and banter stood out the most for me.

My little gripe was that there wasn’t enough of Nancy’s family. Ken Stott (The Hobbit – the films. Not the man) was hilarious. The family angle was something that could have been tapped into a lot more. A missed opportunity.

A shame considering the talented supporting cast at the director’s disposal. Sharon Horgan (Drop The Dead Donkey) was playing it surprisingly straight faced which made a change. It proved she can do normal but I expected better lines and quips from her.

When the family were involved, it was comedy gold. Especially with Nancy’s breakdown. Unsure whether to cheer or boo from her reaction. Brilliant.

Simon Pegg was superb. His nerdy verbal diarrhea and mad impressions really made his character stand out. To be honest, he was pretty much playing himself. His perfectly choreographed dance-off with Bell to Duran Duran’s The Reflex was nauseatingly cheesy but got a guilty grin.

Inevitably as Nancy’s web of lies begin to unwind, it isn’t long before fists are flying! BUT Pegg’s character Jack has his own secrets. An encounter involving his ex wife (Olivia Williams) certainly turned the tables and made for entertaining viewing.

However, the film tragically got sillier and more ridiculous by the minute and the last 20 minutes really killed off what had been an entertaining rom-com.

Rory Kinnear’s weird stalker character was unnecessary. He was funny when he was first introduced. The desperate little man still swooning over his old secondary school crush. But he soon became a moronic blackmailer demanding a blowjob in exchange for not spilling the beans!

Stupid. And when he was waiting naked in a toilet, the joke went too far. It would have been better if he was the scorned crush but Google tracking her location and driving around a BMW like an nutter? NO.

What was with the Game of Thrones actors popping up in this? John Bradley? That’s right Samwell Tarly as a hotel bell boy (Uncredited. I can see why) and Dean-Charles Chapman (Martyn Lannister) as a pissed up youth crashing a house party.

Oh God, the closing scenes were terrible. Seriously, it was so OTT and vomit inducing. A simple request for directions at a house party led to Pegg running around the streets with a massive entourage of drunken kids.

It was needlessly silly and corny and ended with all the things you could think off to fill the chick flick checklist. Cliched speeches (Tick), the “Will-they-won’t-they?” (Of course), the bickering and splitting up (All within one night, might I add).

BUT great chemistry from two excellent leads certainly made this one to see. But with all the silly guff, it soon became one to forget.

By all means, it’s watchable. I laughed quite a bit but I just wished the last 20 minutes didn’t happen. That’s all.

Thumbs up for Man Up? More like a shaky hand.

2.5/5

CUBAN FURY REVIEW

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Get on your dancing shoes and get on it. Funny, feelgood, does what is says on the tin. Bosh.

It was never going to win plaudits for groundbreaking comedy or originality, we’ve seen it all before but at its core is an easygoing (and most importantly) funny comedy about an overweight unloved man who revives his long lost passion for salsa dancing and fights, well . . . dances for the love of his life. Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz/Spaced) always brings a likeable presence and applies his infamous comedy schtick to the role. He plays Bruce Garrett, a talented teenage salsa dancer who toured the world (Gloucester, Colchester . . . ) but gives it all up after a nasty encounter. Flashforward 25 years to the present and we see our hero plodding through life through his usual routine, with the constant ribbing and jibing of his so called friend, Drew (Chris O’Dowd – The IT Crowd/Bridesmaids). However that all changes when their new boss; the beautiful Rashida Jones (The Office USA/I Love You Man) enters the scene, cue the laughs and the rest of the film.

The journey may be the same with our hero stumbling and tumbling as he dusts off the cobwebs and reunites with his scorned mentor, Ron Parfait, the on form Ian McShane (Deadwood/Lovejoy) as he battles whether to dance or not to dance. However, it’s the supporting characters around Frost that make this film entertaining and memorable. The hilarious Olivia Colman who has excelled this year, most notably in Broadchurch, hasn’t forgotten her comedy roots (Peep Show/Hot Fuzz) as his zany sister. Not enough of her in my opinion but when she gets the time, she nails it. Rory Kinnear (Black Mirror/Lucan) and Tim Plester (you may remember him from Game of the Thrones. At the wedding. Yessss, him) play his “supportive” mates who report their “Weekly Round Up” of gaining girls numbers and making contact with one as they release their frustration at the golf course. In all fairness, they are all brilliant and all fight for the screen. However, there are two major players that stand out for me and that is O’Dowd (Come oonnnn!) and Kayvan Novak (Fonejacker/Four Lions).

Originally from the trailer I thought O’Dowd and Frost were going to be pals who unintentionally fall for the same girl and have a bit of banter. Nope. Dowd is a cocky, obnoxious, condescending . . . dick, really, who wedges in between the couple with his fat jokes and jibes. Some of the lines are brilliant. The friction between Frost and O’Dowd makes for quality viewing. The dance off car park fight sequence between the duo is worth the ticket price alone. Considering the crazy stuff the pair have done, I still couldn’t believe they did this. Hilarious OTT dance moves that makes for top viewing with an unexpected blink and you’ll miss it cameo that made it even better.

Novak is ultimately the scene stealer with the flamboyant salsa enthusiast Bejan. From his ball waxing to his still Fanta regime, the laughs come in thick and fast every time he’s on the screen. Fantastic comic relief. The dancing itself isn’t that bad and considering Frost’s build, he ain’t a bad little mover. Obviously the more complexed moves and OTT ones, you can’t help but notice that Frost has suddenly dropped a few pounds if you know what I mean. And I couldn’t help also noticing there might have been a bit of fast forwarding? However,  it might take the attention away and to be honest, the characters are that entertaining and the tone that easygoing that it’s not really needed nor does it really affect anything. There’s also great chemistry between Rashida Jones and Frost. Jones plays it quite straight faced but still stands out in a lively bunch of characters performed by a great cast. McShane as the grouchy alcoholic mentor was fantastic (I said, “Arms like an eagle”. Not a f@#king heron!). Alexandra Roach (who stood out in One Chance) was the only one I felt didn’t get a look in and got pushed into the background.

I could go on and quote some great lines and great to know that not all the best bits were in the trailers. But this film has a lot more to offer, may be a little corny and predictable but it’s fun, light and hilarious. It’s SALSA! 3.5/5

Currently ranks #50 out of 147!