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Man Up - BBC1

Simon Pegg and Lake Bell laugh together on the South Bank
(Image credit: © 2014 StudioCanal Limited/Brit)

A delightfully zany romcom. 4/5 stars.

Spinning out its screwball premise with dexterity and wit, this hugely engaging British romcom is a winner all the way.

Snarky singleton Nancy (Lake Bell) and emotionally bruised divorcée Jack (Simon Pegg) meet cute beneath the clock at Waterloo Station when he mistakes her for his blind date. Rather than disabuse Jack of his error, Nancy spontaneously decides to impersonate the woman he is expecting to meet (Ophelia Lovibond's unquenchably perky 24-year-old triathlete), setting in motion a series of escalatingly zany events.

The film barrels along around a refreshingly down-to-earth, un-touristy London with a giddy momentum that is exhilarating. Not that everything works, it has to be said. Rory Kinnear is rather too creepy for comfort as a deranged stalker who used to be Nancy's schoolmate and Olivia Williams is a little short-changed as Jack's sour ex-wife. But first-time screenwriter Tess Morris supplies a steady stream of sharply observed gags and Pegg and Bell ensure their characters remain both credible and likeable.

The duo's chemistry is sensational, too, with American Bell nailing her English accent perfectly and Pegg redeeming himself after flops such as Hector and the Search for Happiness and Absolutely Anything.

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.