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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Man Up (Blu-ray)
Man Up (Blu-ray)
Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // February 2, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted February 7, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

When it comes to romantic comedies, be it American ones or British ones, there may be a case of when you have seen one, you have generally seen most. Heck, one of these days it wouldn't surprise me to see Sandra Bullock star in a Richard Curtis directed film. In the recent British release Man Up, the formula includes some intriguing people in front of the camera who are familiar in other areas but not in this genre.

Written by Tess Morris (The Love Punch) and directed by Ben Morris (The Inbetweeners), Nancy (Lake Bell, In a World) is a 34-year old single woman, jaded about romance and relationships, and is on a train to see her parents to help celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. She meets Jessica (Ophelia Lovibond, Guardians of the Galaxy), who is off to meet a blind date at the station. Nancy decides to "take" Jessica's place on the date, and she meets Jack (Simon Pegg, The World's End), who is 40 and divorced. She may have decided to do it on a goof, but over the course of the need, she might realize Jack is the one she wants to be with.

The general story within Man Up doesn't cover any new ground to speak of. Girl meets boy, girl is skeptical of boy, girl eventually changes her mind after having an emotional epiphany, done to 90 minutes of laughs (or about 84 in the case of this film). Having said that, the film is a case where Pegg and Bell both tend to put a lot of effort in and have a great deal of comfort with their characters, and you can sense that on screen. Bell's British accent in the film is staggering in how immersive and convincing it is. Pegg, while channeling friend Nick Frost's World's End character, exudes the charm and fun that his other roles have had, and does so nicely. Pegg and Bell aren't afraid to throw themselves into a funny situation or two which further gives ownership to their characters and it's worth it; hell, seeing Nancy appear to floss her teeth with some of her hair is something Lake Bell would probably do, right?

The supporting cast complement the leads nicely to boot; Olivia Williams (Hanna) in a brief moment plays Jack's ex-wife Hilary to perfect notes, bringing out Jack's less than finest moments when interacting with her, with Nancy witnessing it all. The scene stealer may be Rory Kinnear (Spectre). Kinnear plays Sean, a friend of Nancy's who is maybe a lot closer to a stalker than he or anyone wants to realize, but he jumps into the role with enthusiasm and what appear to be a lot of comic improvisations that Morris keeps in the film which are a sight to experience. His work symbolizes the work of the cast, with everyone putting in a better effort than was expected.

When one sees scores of films where the cast seems to not do much with a decent story (or perhaps the story may very well be unfettered crap), seeing an ensemble try and put in some work once in a while is pleasant to see. Man Up is a nice film to see not for what it is saying or how it says it, but for the work spent in the delivery of message. It doesn't venture on new ground, but makes a nice view out of the ground they're on.

The Blu-ray:
The Video:

The AVC encoded 2.40:1 widescreen presentation Lionsgate betroths Man Up is decent. Natural light is the thing I got the takeaway from and it looks natural, though there are moments when the source material had some image detail (like the book covers) which the Blu-ray does well too. Darker moments in nightclubs and bars (or in the England streets looks natural) look decent with little in the way of crushing, and the disc looks solid.

The Sound:

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless surround is a little more active than I expected. Dialogue is balanced throughout, and the film gets a lot of songs to play with in its soundstage, whether it is Whitesnake or what have you. There are several scenes in a club and the pulsating bass conveys a sense of immersion that is convincing. The source material does not have a lot to work with, but does just fine by the movie.

Extras:

The biggest (and most surprising) extra on the disc is "The Seven Beats of Man Up" (40:32), which looks at how the cast came to the material, thoughts on the story, the writer and cast from the cast and crew. It includes a load of table reads, rehearsals, audition tapes and bloopers, and Bell discusses her committal to the accent, and Morris talks about her inspirations for the story and the various beats in the film. It was a better than expected piece and worth checking out. "Simon and Lake interview clips" (4:07) include the stars answering common questions on dating and such, and a gag reel (6:23) is charming and funny. Digital code is here for your delight and/or consumption.

Final Thoughts:

Featuring enjoyably performances by a couple of funny people, Man Up enjoys the space it inhabits and the viewer will overlook its lack of substance or resonance and go along for the ride with the stars. Technically it looks and sounds fine, with the latter being a pleasant surprise, as was the making-of on the film that was just as good. Definitely check this one out even if you don't like Pegg or Bell.

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