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Simon Pegg, Lake Bell

Simon Pegg, Lake Bell

“MAN UP” My rating: C+

88 minutes | MPAA rating: R

There should be a special place in paradise for beautiful women willing to make themselves look like utter dorks.

Lake Bell is by just about any reckoning a beautiful woman. But in “Man Up” the model-actress-director plays Nancy, a thirtysomething Londoner with low self esteem, bad hair (those bangs!!!) and a miserable track record with the opposite sex.

I kind of love this character, who despite her romantic hiccups is smart and funny with a marvelously cynical world view and no tolerance for other people’s b.s.

Just wish the rest of the film were as watchable as Bell is.

This comedy from director Ben Palmer and writer Tess Morris finds Nancy being mistaken for another woman by that woman’s blind date. I’ll spare you the details of this improbable plot twist.

The main thing is that Nancy’s so desperate for a bit of guy attention that she doesn’t tell the fellow — he’s named Jack and is played by Simon Pegg — that he’s got the wrong girl.

So the two have a night on the town — drinking, eating, drinking, bowling, ┬ádrinking, dancing, drinking — and actually start to fall for one another.

Along the way they encounter a creep (Rory Kinnear) who has been obsessed with Nancy since high school, and Jack’s ex-wife (Olivia Williams) who broke his heart by running off with a pretentious yuppie twit.

“Man Up” takes a long, long time to find its voice — it’s only in the final moments that all the pieces come together in screwball fashion — and it often seems the film is trying so hard to be hip and clever that irritation sets in.

Happily Pegg and Bell (an American who comes up with a more than acceptable Brit accent) provide a core of sympathy and humor that gets us through the slow spots.

| Robert W. Butler

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