Man Up (Blu-ray Review)

Man UpSingle 34-year-old Nancy, who hasn’t been in a relationship in four years, accidentally runs into 40-year-old divorcee Jack, who believes she is a blind date he is supposed to be meeting. Sensing a connection, Nancy forgoes telling Jack the truth and decides to play along in Man Up. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 19th, 2015, before being given a wide release by StudioCanal on May 29th, 2015.

Film Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-_5Dexter-0

Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead) and Lake Bell (In a World…) may not be the first two people you would think of to match up in a romantic comedy, but their chemistry is what propels Man Up, from director Ben Palmer (The Inbetweeners). The film contains the traditional tropes of the genre, complete with grand romantic gestures and a scene discussing sex theories that plays as homage to When Harry Met Sally

Some of the jokes work, some don’t, and some really a bit too much on slapstick and silliness, especially with a side character played by Rory Kinnear of the recent James Bond films. His character, who has a life longing obsession with Lake Bell’s Nancy, pushes the film nearly pushes the film beyond the suspension of disbelief, but the charms of the two leads keep Man Up afloat and quite enjoyable.

Both Nancy (Bell) and Jack (Pegg) are thoroughly fleshed out and complete characters thanks to the screenplay by Tess Morris. Nancy is a cynic and Pegg a romantic, and the film never looks down or makes fun of their thoughts on the world or their relative older ages for the genre (34 and 40). Pegg, best known for his Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy with Edgar Wright and as Scotty in the rebooted Star Trek, strikes just the right notes as Jack, and Bell gets the now rare distinction of an American playing a Brit (it’s now almost always the other way around). Bell is entirely credible with both the accent and her woefully cynical character.

Given the accidental meet cute where Nancy pretends to be Jack’s blind date, the screenplay luckily reveals Nancy’s deceit fairly early in the proceedings, and doesn’t use it as a crutch or push its believability past the breaking point. The script finds clever ways of keeping its lead pair together over the course of a single night, and gives its actors enough structure to play off of, displayed very well in an excellent scene that takes place in a bathroom stall, after Jack bumps into his ex-wife Hilary (played by Olivia Williams).

Director Ben Palmer places Man Up snuggly into its genre. So if the typical “romcom” is not your thing, there probably isn’t much you’ll find to pull for, but given most of the recent romantic comedy fare, the film is a bit of a relief. It has its crude moments, but doesn’t lean on them for humor, instead letting the characters take the ball and run with it, and giving the audience a relationship that is worth rooting for.

Man Up


Man Up is displayed at a wide 2.40:1 ratio, a fairly rare aspect for romantic comedies. Palmer finds enough reasons to fill up his frame, in a film that mostly takes place at night, in fairly dark environments.

  • Encoding: AVC MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Aspect Ratio:40:1
  • Clarity/Detail: The films locations don’t aim for rich vivid detail, but the transfer plays the transitions from exteriors to interiors nicely.
  • Depth: No issues; the film features a mostly traditional look
  • Black Levels: Some shadow detailing is lost in the film’s darker areas
  • Color Reproduction: Reds are often on display, and richly recreated for disc
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones are all natural and authentic looking throughout
  • Noise/Artifacts: Nothing noticeable

Man Up


Solid reproduction for disc here as well.

  • Audio Format(s): English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
  • Dynamics: Well balanced between clean audio and score tracks
  • Low Frequency Extension: LFE is utilized to bring balance to the presentation
  • Surround Sound Presentation: This isn’t a film that gets its kicks from surround usage, but score and dialogue are nicely presented, with some exteriors providing environments for a bit of ambient surround usage
  • Dialogue Reproduction:  Spoken words were clear and intelligible

 Man Up


Lionsgate’s blu-ray contains a redemption code for an Ultraviolet Digital Download, as well as the following extras:

  • Gag Reel (1080p, 6:23)
  • Simon and Lake Interview Clips (1080p, 4:07)
  • The Seven Beats of Man Up (1080p, 40:32): The longest extra on the disc contains lots of interviews and some fun behind-the-scenes footage


Man Up is aimed squarely at romantic comedy fans, despite the Blu-ray cover noting the film comes from the producer of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz (Nira Park). Other than the presence of Simon Pegg, there isn’t much of a connection with those earlier Edgar Wright pictures. Man Up has a few missteps in some occasional slapstick and over-the-top supporting characters, and is far more romantic than it is laugh-out-loud funny, but Pegg and Lake Bell make for a surprisingly sweet couple, and their talents and charms give Man Up an edge over a lot of the romcom fair that normally gets released.

Man Up Blu-ray Review


Reviewer/Actor/Director/Screenwriter, former film critic for PBS' nationally televised series Just Seen It, and an MFA graduate of USC's School of Cinematic Arts. Favorite films include ROCKY, DIE HARD, GHOSTBUSTERS, THE GODFATHER, and television shows such as TWIN PEAKS, THE X-FILES, and THE TWILIGHT ZONE.

  1. No Comments