How To Be Single
Director: Christian Ditter
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Leslie Mann, Alison Brie, Nicholas Braun, Anders Holm, and Damon Wayans Jr.
The red hearts are everywhere, the flowers are ready to be delivered, and the chocolates are available in vast assortments. For those not in a romantic relationship this upcoming Valentine’s Day weekend, prepare for every possible reminder that you are single. Call up your single friends and cast those Valentine’s Day worries aside because “How To Be Single” will give you a reason to go to the movies. Whether or not this film will provide the desired distractions is completely up to you. “How To Be Single” is a romantic comedy, offering quite a few funny moments, that barely escapes the trappings that have faltered many like it before.
Alice (Dakota Johnson) is a newcomer to New York City, just graduated and taking a break from her college boyfriend to find her identity as a single person. Alice is introduced to singlehood by Robin (Rebel Wilson), a bawdy and promiscuous partier who breaks down the rules of hookups and offers quick remedies for hangovers. Alice lives with her sister Meg (Leslie Mann), a self-absorbed obstetrician who doesn’t want a relationship but wants a baby. Add an indulgent womanizing bartender (Anders Holm) and a statistic focused Internet dater (Alison Brie) and the rugged roads on the journey to a relationship city are set.
Focusing a narrative on interweaving stories has potential to shorthand character development or general cohesiveness along the way. For the most part “How To Be Single” avoids these trappings, instead utilizing the familiar conventions to take advantage of a well-timed joke. However, it still falters when needing to wrap everything up nicely with a bow or when in the process of deciding how much the female characters should stand on their own two feet instead of relying on men to influence their resolution. The film pushes the two-hour mark, which is noticeable in the third act when the film slows to a crawl as the women and accompanying men conclude their stories. Leading up to this point you can feel the film slowly unraveling as confusions of being a single person in the big city and the woes of establishing a relationship are portrayed initially funny and amusing only to become repetitiously tedious.
Dakota Johnson leads the group and is the tie that holds the film together. Ms. Johnson’s naïve and innocent character composition allows her journey of maturation to feel more substantial than it otherwise would have been. Rebel Wilson is utilized in the same way audiences have seen her before, foul mouthed and looking to have a good time. It would have been a welcome design to see her character traverse the relationship spectrum like the other characters; instead she consistently plays the same note over and over. Leslie Mann also plays another variation of past characters, but like Ms. Wilson she is good at making the most out of the familiar role.
“How To Be Single” is an average romantic comedy, but that’s saying quite a bit considering the recent quality of these sort of films. The cast keeps the film on track and the narrative does a decent job of keeping the laughs, awkwardness, and sincere qualities consistent. It may not be as sweet as Valentine’s Day candy but it will suit those looking for a tame date movie or those seeking a reason to skip the greeting card company’s favorite day.
2.75 out of 5.00