You will ‘crack up’ at Man Up

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man up  – to fulfill your responsibilities as a man, despite your insecurities and constant ability to place yourself in embarrassing and un-manly scenarios.

Urban Dictionary

Thanks to Dean at Studiocanal I took the opportunity to attend the preview of Man Up on Wednesday at Hoyts, Melbourne Central. This Rom-Com is a UK/French production starring Britisher Simon Pegg and American Lake Bell, although she does very well maintaining a British accent throughout. (Apparently, this was helped by her staying in character even when not filming.)

The blurb sets the scene:

Nancy (Lake Bell), is done with dating. 10 times bitten, 100 times shy, she’s exhausted by the circus. So when Jack (Simon Pegg) blindly mistakes her for his date, no one is more surprised than her when she does the unthinkable and just goes with it. It’s going to take a night of pretending to be someone else for Nancy to finally Man Up and be her painfully honest, awesomely unconventional self… but will Jack also Man Up, and be able to get over her duplicity? Best just to let the evening unfold, roll with the consequences, and see if one crazy, unpredictable, complicated night can bring these two messy souls together.

From the outset, I knew my demographics (60-somethings) not the target audience for this movie and was glad my daughter Mary Jane (20s) came along because the generation gap gave us different perspectives and made for an excellent discussion afterwards.

Regarding the scene where Nancy has a rant about raunchy sex (entirely mythical) between her and Jack to get back at Jack’s vindictive ex-wife Hilary (Olivia Williams) Mary Jane said, ‘I’m glad you didn’t know half of what she was talking about!’

However, we mainly did laugh at the same things, and this is a whimsical feel good film. It’s not super original as far as the genre goes, but there are some subtle touches and the lead roles are well-chosen. Even Nancy’s parents Bert (Ken Stott of Rebus fame) and Fran (Dame Harriet Walter of Sense & Sensibility and Atonement) are well cast.

It’s a modern film – blind dates are not new, but the intrusion of technology is there although the line about Nancy not being on Facebook and yet she was supposed to be a journalist I found a little unbelievable, considering everyone seems to have an online profile these days. However, she was meant to be unconventional.

Nancy’s reaction when she runs into an old school friend Sean (Rory Kinnear) who honestly is a creepy, crazed stalker was also bizarre for a 34-year-old professional woman jaded but still experienced with men. (Even with the suspension of disbelief.)

I found Sean more disturbing than funny, and my daughter agreed. I don’t know whether the part is as the writer Tess Morris envisaged. Shooting scripts and screenplays can differ widely, but considering the enormous amount of violence against women – cyber and actual – a creepy stalker who demands a ‘blowjob’ as the first trade off to keep Nancy’s real identity secret made both MaryJane and I squirm. There are several ways that subplot could have been written differently and still been funny.

The film happens all in one night, and it works well even if the amount of shots and bottles of alcohol consumed overdone. It’s difficult to believe they could remain standing; think rationally and speak naturally, but that and a slightly weird ending is to appeal to the followers of Hollywood Rom-Coms according to my daughter.

Those particular points aside, this is a light, entertaining comedy that has some seriously funny lines and scenes carried off superbly by Simon Pegg and Lake Bell and well-chosen supporting cast.

There is a poignant scene with a beautiful expression of advice to those who have lost love, lost self-esteem, seek love and need something to go right but don’t know if it ever will. Nancy tells Jack he’s an emotional jigsaw at the moment, in pieces and he just needs to find the blue bits.

I loved this metaphor; it reminds me of a fantastic book Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart. This book helped me through grief when I lost the love of my life. Even in comedy there can be a serious message.  Nancy’s parents still in love after 40 years of marriage – looked at from one perspective Nancy can think she’s a failure or she can see that a long lasting, loving relationship is achievable.

This fast-paced film matches Jack and Nancy’s roller-coaster evening of dropping barriers and getting to know each other while living in the moment.  The soundtrack great too, ensuring you stay in the mood and leave the cinema upbeat and happy.

Romantic Comedies may not be your favourite genre, but Man Up is different enough from some of the usual offerings to make it an entertaining night at the movies.  And if you go intergenerational there’s great conversation over coffee!

A Sunburnt History, Savages – a Review

Nick Waxman and ukulele
Nick Waxman and his ukulele!

In June, I clicked on a link and discovered the Anywhere Festival has been making arts a bigger part of everyday lives since 2011 with performances anywhere but a theatre and for the second year there would be events in Frankston.

The festival will run from 21 August to 6 September with “100 comedy, music and drama acts – and a few hard to describe – in the nooks and crannies of Frankston.” The organisers, Paul Osuch and Alex McTavish asked for photographers and reviewers and yours truly obliged.

outside of barber shop
Lord & Master Barber Shop 116 Nepean Hwy Seaford

Last night, I sat in a Barber Shop in Seaford and an hour disappeared as Nick Waxman entertained the audience with a fast-paced history lesson; the facts explained with rhyming wordplay, songs, mini sketches, mimicry, and a non-stop energy that must be seen to be believed.

With an ever-present smile, Nick put his show Savages in context. From day one of the European colonisation of our ‘Sunburnt Country’ we must question who were/are the primitive and uncivilised people in Australia’s history!

As historical truths are revealed, occasionally like all good satirical comedy, the laughter becomes a little uncomfortable because yes, the truth can hurt. However, when delivered by Nick, in a convivial atmosphere and a drink in hand, the ‘inconvenient truths’ of social commentary can be noted to mull over later.  Even if some of the information is shocking, Nick doesn’t let anything spoil this thoroughly entertaining evening.

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The sheer breadth of his knowledge is stunning. A self-confessed ‘drama teacher with a passion for history‘ his memory and flawless delivery mesmerising as  he weaves  Australia’s history from the time of mega fauna and arrival of the first people, into modern day facts, encompassing big philosophical and political issues such as racism, democracy, the rights of indigenous people, women, and homosexuals, along with the myths around war and peace. Along the way we learn of the importance of community’s knowing and understanding their history …

Anywhere Festival provides a way for independent artists to present work that removes the burden of theatre expenses and allows for the creation of works in amazing spaces anywhere but a theatre.

The relaxed and cosy venue suited the show. It’s amazing how a rearranging of barber chairs and an old comfortable leather lounge suite with some plastic chairs sandwiched between, creates a mini theatre. A portable projector screen with laptop controlled slideshow completed the ‘props’ along with Nick’s ukulele, of course. A makeshift bar in the back of the shop ensured a convivial atmosphere indeed as patrons chose champagne, wine or Gippsland Gold beer!

Malcolm Blair from Lord & Master Barber our host and just as he promotes his traditional business during the day, ‘a relaxed welcoming environment’ greeted each guest on arrival. For a business that started only a year ago Malcolm and his staff have built a loyal local following.

They offer a range of services not seen for many years, including Face and Head Shaves, Beard Design, which includes shaving and shaping the outline of the beard and also traditional and modern cuts. Their client base varies from kids through to seniors with servicing the 20 – 40 age group the majority of their work.

Malcolm’s mantra is to keep the prices as low as possible so clients return more regularly to keep their style sharp, but also build personal relationships with a local business. Community is very important  – shopping and buying local keeps places alive, encourages community spirit. He offers the Lords Exceptional Cut, which includes a complimentary beer – the same Gippsland Gold on offer last night. I can testify this is a tasty drink!

The Anywhere Festival promises “performances right where people live, work and play to make stronger, more vibrant communities.”


Nick Waxman’s show Savages at Malcolm Blair’s Lord & Master Barber Shop a fantastic fulfilment of these expectations. The venue easily accessible by public transport with Seaford Station an easy 4 minute walk away.

You can see Nick’s show on the following dates – it would be a shame to miss it:

  • Saturday, 29 Aug  at 7.30pm
    Thursday, sept 3 at 7.30pm
    Friday Sept 4, at 7.30pm
    Saturday  Sept 5 at 7.30pm

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it! Savages chronicles the all-too-many moments in our shared history that seem very much like a broken record. The foolish, fool hearty and fooled fill this fast-paced fifty five minute frenzy of facts, figures and forget-me-nots (fingers crossed)! Savages can be found everywhere… after all, it was such a primitive time.”

Presented by Flak Productions

Me as an unashamed groupie congratulating Nick after the show
Me as an unashamed groupie congratulating Nick after the show