(M) Starring: Lake Bell, Simon Pegg
Simon Pegg has positioned himself as a comedic force in modern cinema. He has moved past the cult figure of Shaun of the Dead and plucky sidekick in the mainstream franchises of Star Trek and Mission Impossible. He has developed a niche for himself as an unsuspecting leading man, by managing to position himself as the new “everyman”. The “everyman” is the actor who seems to successfully travel between film genres and appeals to a wide audience base. They’re an actor people can relate to because he acts how they think they would react in these cinematic situations. He connects with the audience, because of his authentic portrayal of his lifestyle.
In Man Up, Pegg is not merely the comic relief, but leads the performances in this romantic comedy. He has the depth to manage the drama, but is exceptionally endearing within the comedic scenarios. Bell and Pegg’s performances make this film appealing and enjoyable. It has its laugh out loud moments, and also includes serious components. Man Up plays on the comic genius of Pegg and allows Bell to prove to be a multi-talented actress who holds her own against Pegg.
As a romantic comedy, Man Up works in the tradition of the British romantic comedy and brings forth key cultural differences in comedy. It stays within the British tradition of Love, Actually or Notting Hill, replacing Hugh Grant with Simon Pegg. The British tradition incorporates a darkness and bluntness that differs from the American style, which tends to be a more subtle and softer delivery style. The British tradition tends towards the melancholic, while the US equivalent has a lighter heart. Language usage and sexual conversation lack any subtly in the world of the English cinema, while the American film would include the hopeful chase scene that brings together the lovers within a sunset backdrop and the ten years later scenario. Irony is a tool of the British film, while hope is the vehicle of the American tradition. Both styles work, but deliver a different look at relationships and comedy. Man Up manages to stay within the British tradition and may have found it’s new leading man.
Romantic comedies are a fascinating genre to consider for a Christian reviewer. The Bible has quite a bit to say about relationships and how men and women should treat one another. Love is a reassuring theme throughout the biblical narrative and is at the heart of the most treasured commandments. Song of Solomon gives married couples a standard for romance and the value of sex within a married relationship. Another consideration from this film genre is the idea of laughter. We are encouraged to laugh and can know that even God laughs.
The rom-com may not seem to be the door to deeper conversations, but the opportunities are there. After watching a romantic comedy it is subtle, but like a good relationship it is the subtlety that provides the spark to start the fire of love between a husband and wife.
Leaving the cinema…
It was an enjoyable and endearing film. The content was for adults only, but it gives an entertaining glimpse into the lives of the dating scene for adults. Is it realistic? No, but if rom-coms were realistic they would be epic dramas. Just go to the film, have fun and don’t think too much.
What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?
- What does the Bible have to say about romance? (Proverbs 5: 18-19, Song of Solomon)
- Does God laugh? (Psalm 37:13, Psalm 59:8)
- Where can we find real love, hope and joy in this broken world? (Acts 24:14-16, Romans 8:24)
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