Man Up | 2015
The film is largely set over one night in central London, though it does open with a South Seas-themed engagement party held at Down Hall House Hotel in Hertfordshire, setting up the premise of 34-year-old Nancy (Lake Bell) single, cynical and pretty much having given up on dating.
Down Hall, a hotel-wedding and events venue on the Hertfordshire-Essex border near to Bishops Stortford, will be familiar to addicts of ‘reality’ TV as the venue for the 2009 nuptials of Jade Goody and Jack Tweed.
Its busy concourse was the setting for Terminus, the 1961 documentary that launched the career of director John Schlesinger and was more recently used for the stunning sequence with the Guardian journalist being guided through crowds of travellers by Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum.
In a moment of recklessness, Nancy passes herself of as ‘Jessica’, the woman Jack was expecting to meet, and joins him in an alcohol-fuelled night on the town.
The Production Notes for the film make great play of its geographical honesty, but the practicalities of film making involve a few compromises.
Although Waterloo is south of the river, Nancy and Jack appear to arrive at London’s lively South Bank Centre via Hungerford Bridge, the pedestrian Thames crossing which runs south from Embankment station.
The South Bank arts complex (which includes the Royal Festival Hall and the Hayward Art Gallery) was originally built for the 1951 Festival of Britain, and has since been extended to include the BFI Southbank (formerly the National Film Theatre) and the National Theatre (whose 70s concrete walkways were recently featured in Spooks: The Greater Good).
The pair (sort of) get to know each other as they stroll along the Thames riverfront path to the east of Hungerford Bridge, past the array of franchises including Japanese outlets Wagamama and Yo Sushi! and a branch of Foyle’s bookstore.
You’ll have to take your chances on whichever pop-up bar or burger van is currently occupying the spot here, but if you’ve a staunch constitution and want to follow Man Up’s varied drinking itinerary, this stop requires a bottle of Jamaican Red Stripe lager.
After climbing the unmissable canary yellow steps alongside Festival Pier for a terrific view over the river, Nancy is somewhat discomfited to find she’s committed to impersonating a 24-year-old triathlete.
Jack suggests a “fun place over the river”, which turns out to be ‘Rosita’s’ Mexican cantina in Soho, and the one real invention in the film.
No, there is no ‘Rosita’s’. The funky-looking bar in which Jack learns that Black Pant Wash are the coolest new band he’s never heard of, is Love & Liquor, 34 High Street, Maida Vale NW6. The club is actually on a bit of a social borderline between upmarket Maida Vale and more down to earth Kilburn Park. Currently, it’s only open from 10pm on Friday and Saturday, and the drink here is, of course, tequila shots.
The exterior of ‘Rosita’s’, which you can see when Jack and Nancy later compete in a cab-bike race back to the club, is a neon sign attached to the rear of Vinopolis on Stoney Street in Borough SE1, south of the river again.
This entrance is opposite restaurant Roast, which you’ll recognise from Danny Boyle’s Trance, and just down the road from the entrance to ‘The Leaky Cauldron’ in Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban. Nearby is the gang’s Park Street hideout from Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock And Smoking Barrels and just the other side of Borough Market stands Bridget’s flat from Bridget Jones’s Diary.
From here, Jack and Nancy go bowling. There’s no attempt to disguise Bloomsbury Lanes, Bedford Way, in the basement of the Tavistock Hotel, in Bloomsbury WC1 – though the film implies it stands on Wardour Street in Soho.
This is where Nancy bumps into the very slightly creepy Sean (Rory Kinnear), who still has a major crush on her from school days. And the tipple here is Dutch Heineken lager.
After confession time and an awkward encounter with Jack’s ex-wife, Hilary (Olivia Williams), and her new partner Ed (Stephen Campbell Moore), it’s back across Hungerford Bridge to Waterloo Station, and Jack’s meeting with the real Jessica (Ophelia Lovibond).
He takes Jessica back to the South Bank Centre, where they share Tiger Beers, from Singapore, on the Terrace of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, alongside the huge abstract stainless steel sculpture, called Zemran.
This being a romcom, I don’t believe a spoiler alert is required. Jack, of course, realises where he really belongs (Jessica doesn’t even recognise quotes from Wall Street, for God’s sake) and, after suitably convoluted setbacks, tracks down Nancy to her parents’ wedding anniversary party at 11 Ella Road, Crouch End, N8 – a familiar area for Simon Pegg, as it’s not far from the neighbourhood for Shaun Of The Dead.