Between Last Man Standing and now this show, it seems that Tuesdays on ABC have a theme of “modern man wants to remain a manly man” going on. However, between the two shows, this was the less funny of the two. Filmed without a laugh track and out on a studio lot, this show follows three man-children as they try to attempt to be what their father's were before them, though we find it hard to believe that their fathers were this bumbling or thought that bravery meant to stand in a lawn with a pink pogostick as a weapon against a guy and an entourage that came in a wedding limo wearing tuxedos.
The three men, Will, Craig, and Kenny, are introduced playing an online shooting game at the beginning of the episode while introducing Craig’s issue of dwelling on a woman named Lisa he had dated and never got over. The next day as Will (the sort of “ringleader” of the three men) is about to get ready to leave for work, we are introduced to his wife, Theresa, and two children, a son and daughter. His son, Patrick, seems to have more feminine tendencies than Will would like, which leads to a rant about what happened to men being men, all while looking for hazelnut creamer for his coffee.
His wife, however, has already bought Patrick a gift: a video game. Will feels that the video game is too violent for him, but would rather take it for himself. Kenny, a man with a very short temper when it comes to his ex-wife, Bridgette, comes in and tells Will and Theresa to un-invite Bridgette to Patrick’s upcoming birthday party. Bridgette then comes in and pushes Kenny’s buttons to the point that Will tells him to keep his cool by thinking of the coolest person he knows and what he would do, leading Kenny to the question: “What would Tobey Maguire do?”
Yes, the actor from the Spiderman movies. Yes, really.
He ends up enraged again after Bridgette mentions that she’s bringing her current boyfriend to the birthday party as well. We also find Craig in this scene deeply mourning the loss of Lisa as he finds out that she’s getting married. He asks Theresa and Bridgette of their opinion and while Theresa feels that it’s time to move on, Bridgette seems a bit more optimistic and says that he should try as he feels that he hasn’t gained the closure he needs. She also mentions the fact that Craig once serenaded Lisa by guitar, singing Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison, as Craig implies that it was “their song.”
At Patrick’s birthday party, we are introduced to Bridgette’s current boyfriend, Grant, an underwear model who has a way with words that gravitates the women at the party towards him (though it might have more to do with his looks than anything). Of course, Grant finds an opportunity to remove his shirt as he plays basketball against Kenny (which Kenny loses, though this shouldn’t be surprising). Patrick then tells Will that Grant got him a shaving kit as a gift, which was exactly what Will got him (also mentioning successfully flirting with a girl he has his eye on). So, Craig, Kenny, and Will go out to try and find something else in a hurry and on the way to doing so, Craig decides to crash Lisa’s wedding to find closure, but instead tries to serenade her singing “their song” on his guitar. This doesn’t end well as the three men run out of the chapel with the groom and his entourage chasing after them.
This leads to the showdown on Will’s lawn and ends in Grant tackling the entourage to the ground shouting, “Barracuda!” The other three men congratulate themselves for standing up like men, though other than verbal instigation they did nothing. In the end, Theresa gives Patrick the video game and Will gives him a letter opener that has been passed down to the men in his family as a gift of his crossing to “manhood,” an item he used earlier in the episode. Theresa is against it due to the possibility of Patrick hurting himself, which he indeed does. The episode ends with the three of them playing another round of online shooting games, reviewing what had happened and yelling out types of fish as their confidence booster like Grant had done.
To me, this seemed so dragged out forever, even though it was less than thirty minutes long. It continues with the idea of a man’s need to be masculine and it has become redundant and unoriginal. Just about every show on the air now or in the past has included the definition of masculinity in the modern man as a subplot though with a more amusing spin. These series were able to accomplish this successfully with characters more original than the ones in this show. Man Up! tries too hard to be a comedy without thinking about where these characters have been seen before in contemporary pop culture. Both Kenny and Craig remind me of Zac Galifinakis’ character in The Hangover and Paul Rudd’s character in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, respectively.
This show clearly drags the idea of manliness out as its main plot, rather than its subplot where it has provided better success. This is what will be its downfall and it seems to make no effort to bring something new to the table. The only two positive things to say about this show is that Grant (portrayed by Henry Simmons) provides eye-candy for those interested and the lawn showdown was, at least, a small chuckle for us. With only these two things to go on, this show might be heading towards a swift cancellation. It seems like a waste that this show was said to be a “breakout hit” and it falling well short of that promise.
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