In the new, London-set romantic-comedy Man Up (out Nov. 13 in New York and Los Angeles), Lake Bell’s hungover Nancy is mistaken by Simon Pegg‘s character Jack for his blind date, and she decides to pretend she is the woman he’s looking for. While director Ben Palmer’s film offers a fresh twist on the genre, screenwriter Tess Morris is happy to admit she was inspired by a number of previous rom-coms while penning the script.
Below, Morris talks about the five films which most influenced Man Up.
It Happened One Night (1934)
A film that still feels as fresh now as it did then. Back in 1934, when it was released, Variety reported that it was “without a particularly strong plot,” but “manages to come through in a big way, due to the acting, dialog, situations and directing”… and thus my favorite kind of rom-com was born. Although obviously Variety was wrong about the lack of a strong plot — a spoiled heiress, running away from her family, is helped by a man who is actually a reporter in need of a story – this grandest of romantic comedies is the perfect showcase for the opposites attract template everyone has been trying to recreate ever since.
Before Sunrise (1995)
I always feel inspired when I watch this film. It’s so simple and yet so complicated. Two people, one night, and all the emotional obstacles you can throw in their way. Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke are so modern, and yet so old fashioned, which is a favourite cinematic vibe of mine. I also love that Linklater made a trilogy out of it, which is something I would love to do with Man Up. I feel like my leading lady’s story is not over yet…
In Search of a Midnight Kiss (2007)
I remember watching this and thinking, “Wow, now that’s how to make a low budget rom-com.” It’s also another movie set over 24 hours, this time using the device of New Year’s Eve, that really helps us to understand the lost and lonely souls that populate that most difficult time of year. I felt so inspired by (writer-director) Alex Holdridge, that he had just gone out and made this lovely, funny, and very touching little gem of a movie.
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
This film continues to blow my mind. Because it won awards, people often forget that it’s a full-blown romantic comedy, and a rather screwball one at that. Whenever I watch it, which is a lot, I see and hear new things I didn’t notice before, surely the ultimate compliment you can give to a film. It also reminded me how, when you get the right chemistry between your two leads, you will follow them anywhere and everywhere, and especially onto the dancefloor. I love that if you tried to pitch this movie, people would go, “Nah, seen that all before,” and how wrong they would be.
I love this film for two reasons. Firstly, because it’s brilliant, and glorious, and hilarious and a rom-com between two women. Secondly, it came out as I was writing Man Up, and thus there was this hugely exciting atmosphere surrounding films that starred women. I remember seeing that poster, of the girls in their bright pink bridesmaids dresses, looking drunk and disorderly, and thinking “Yes!” In many ways, a love letter to another favorite rom-com of mine, Muriel’s Wedding, Bridesmaids kick-started the much-needed revival of rom-coms that both men and women could enjoy, and I am forever grateful to it for that.
Man Up will expand to additional theaters Nov. 20, and will also be available to watch on VOD from that date. You can see the film’s trailer, below.