Starring Kevin Wu, Justin Chon
Directed by Justin Chon, written by Justin Chon and Kevin Wu
IMDB Rating: 7.9 (from 37 Reviews)
Yeah, probably not the Man Up you were thinking. This silly/serious, confusing coming-of-age buddy movie completely struggles to click into any sort of gear.
Man Up stars Kevin Wu as Martin, a lazy 19-year-old with no job or intention of going to college. Instead, he spends his days hanging out with his best friend Randall (Chon) and doing nothing. However, when his Mormon girlfriend (Nichole Bloom) gets pregnant he gets thrown out by his disappointed mother and lives with Randall as they try to prepare him to fatherhood.
While the idea itself is okay, if not very clever, the way they go about telling it is all wrong. The majority of the time I was left in limbo, wondering whether I was meant to take a certain scene seriously or not, such was their inability to create any clear funny moments. There’s a particular scene that springs to mind early on where Randall explains to his best friend that he doesn’t have a dad and there all like “Dude…” and I was thinking to myself ‘not having a dad is a pretty big issue, and you’re not taking it the slightest bit seriously. If my best friend told me he didn’t have a dad I think I would show a bit of compassion, wouldn’t you?’. There was another scene like this but I don’t remember it now. Also, by the time I had decided to take nothing seriously, the film tried to actually get serious on me! I think this all comes down to what could be one of the worst scripts I’ve ever seen/heard since I started doing this. Chon and Wu’s script created basic, stereotypical characters that were never believable, and also makes the dialogue feel clunky, unnatural and worst of all, not that funny!
Performances in this film were nothing to sing and dance about either, bar one exception. Kevin Wu was okay, but never really sold to me that I was watching a character and not just him. One of few things that this film has got going for it is the performance by Justin Chon, who I remember as the drunk poster-boy of teen film 21 & Over. Chon is a naturally very funny man and tried to make the best of the terrible script the two stars wrote.
The directing by Chon is also quite good. While a lot of the animation in the film was hit and miss for me, Chon has an eye for a scenic shot, and also does a good job with shooting the montages. He also knows how to use the camera to add more feel to what’s being played out, so overall it was pretty good going!
I must say that while this isn’t the worst film I’ve ever seen, it’s probably in the 5 worst. It’s a pretty film, I’ll give it that, but it’s tried to be funny without knowing a single good joke, the characters are plain and stereotypical, the slapstick that it dearly relies on is not that great, and the script, GOD! It feels like something they wrote when they were in primary!
Note: I don’t know what the American equivalent of primary school is, but primary is the first school you have to go to. You leave at 11 years old, I think? Something like that. You get the idea, the script sucks.