Tag Archives: British

Man Up (2015)

man-up-poster

I caught up with my best pal a couple of weeks ago as we both happened to be in Hong Kong at the same time. He’s not exactly a movie buff, but he did recommend a film, Man Up, which he saw during the flight over.

I didn’t expect much when I checked it out the other day. Romantic comedies are probably my least favourite genre, and Man Up is a film that has seemingly received very little buzz. Simon Pegg and Lake Bell also seemed like a very odd couple.

Considering all this, Man Up turned out to be more than just serviceable — it was actually pretty good.

The premise is this: a mid-30s woman (Bell) who has more or less given up on finding love decides to roll the dice one last time when a 40-year-old divorcee (Pegg) mistakes her for his blind date. She goes along for the ride and thus begins a wild night of fun, romance and absurdly embarrassing encounters.

Generally speaking, this looks, sounds and smells like a fairly typical rom-com. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and is filled with outrageous gags that infuse the film with a silly tone and a sense of destiny. But of course, no matter what happens throughout, you know how it will end.

That said, Man Up does everything rather well within the confines of the genre. Despite an apparent mismatch, Pegg and Bell have surprising chemistry, playing off each other’s strengths with great comedic timing. I knew Pegg would be good, so the big surprise here is that Bell is also excellent, not just in pulling off a convincing British accent but in not being afraid to make a fool of herself to get the big laughs.

However, the guy who stole the show for me was veteran British actor Rory Kinnear, a familiar face in the recent generation of Bond films as Bill Tanner, though in my mind he will forever be the prime minister who porked a pig in Black Mirror. Kinnear goes all out in this one as a creepy former high school classmate obsessed with Bell’s character, and he goes over-the-top by just the right amount to elicit the deepest belly laughs of the entire film. Just the voice he puts on is hilarious.

Strong performances aside, the dialogue is sharp and and a little explicit, treading the line between edgy and crude without toppling into the latter. It’s a strange thing to say, but this is a rare rom-com that is actually romantic and sexy and funny.

Though the film never steers full clear of rom-com cliches, and Bell is perhaps too attractive and in too-good shape for her predicament to be realistic, Man Up is confident and lively enough for a jolly good time, even for those not that into the genre.

3.5 stars out of 5

DVD Review: Chalet Girl (2011)

Don’t ask me why I watched Chalet Girl, the British answer to American teen rom-coms.  I can assure you, it has nothing to do with the fact that I also watch(ed) Gossip Girl, even though this film also stars Ed Westwick (Chuck Bass).

Chalet Girl tells the story of tomboy Kim Matthews (played by a very likeable Felicity Jones), who used to be a champion skateboarder but a turn of events has her working at fast food joint to support her deadbeat father.  A catering opportunity in the Alps sees Kim discover the joys of a similar sport (or so I’ve told, from a technical perspective) — snowboarding.  Meanwhile, she befriends fellow chalet girl Georgie (Tasmin Edgerton) and finds herself getting close to her boss (Westwick), who, of course, already has a girlfriend.

If I sound less than enthusiastic, I don’t mean to be.  Chalet Girl actually isn’t all that bad compared to its US counterparts.  It’s mildly amusing, contains some exciting sports action and the plot is…well, at least there is a plot.  The film is anchored by Felicity Jones, who does a fantastic job as Kim, and it’s also quite interesting (and bizarre) to see Westwick speak in his natural British accent.

Ultimately, Chalet Girl is light, frothy, forgettable fun that’s a little more charming that it ought to be for a film of this kind.  But it still doesn’t mean that it’s particularly good.

2.75 stars out of 5