How To Be Single is a film I never would have considered watching had it not been mentioned favourably by a YouTuber I follow, Abby Williamson. The title alone, although not completely misleading, gives the impression of it being a cheesy, forgettable rom-com. What won me over was in Abby’s review, where she mentions that she went in excepting a fluffy romantic comedy, but got more than she expected.
The film centres around four women’s dating lives in New York City, and despite the endless comparisons to Sex and the City in other reviews, I think that’s where most of the similarities end. Alice (Dakota Johnson) decides to take a break (“Alright, season three Ross”) from her four-year college relationship to learn who she truly is as a person and how to be on her own. But before she can get back together with her college boyfriend, he finds someone else. So then she’s left with none other than her party-crazed friend Robin (Rebel Wilson) to guide her through single life in New York. The two other leading ladies include Meg (Leslie Mann), Alice’s highly successful but devastatingly single sister, and Lucy (Alison Brie), who’s so obsessed with finding the right man to the point that she’s developed algorithms for dating websites to pinpoint her soul mate.
There are many things that I enjoyed about this movie, but there are also some question marks. For example, it had some pacing issues. The first half an hour or so of the film had so much going on, that it proved a bit difficult to keep up at times. I also wasn’t totally convinced of Dakota Johnson as our leading protagonist. I feel like Alice’s character was supposed to be a cool, quirky dresser who is a little awkward, and though Johnson got the awkwardness down, I felt that her overall performance fell a bit flat. Her delivery was kinda off and I just found her to be quite dull. If I had the chance to cast this film, I would put someone like Anna Kendrick or Emma Stone in this role. I did enjoy Johnson and Wilson’s friendship dynamic, although I felt like a lot of their party scenes were lifted straight from The Hangover.
Another thing that I found weird was that Alison Brie’s character was almost completely removed from the three other ladies, her only connection to everyone being the hot bartender (Anders Holm). I get that New York is a big city, but it just seemed a bit strange for three people who hung out at the same bar all the time, and all knew the bartender, weren’t even acquaintances at the very least. (This is especially weird when Lucy shows up at Alice’s birthday party later on in the film – like, whaaaat?)
Despite that though, this film was an overall hit for me. I loved Leslie Mann’s character with her younger love interest (Jake Lacy), and her general storyline. I absolutely loved, loved, loved Jason Mantzoukas (and everything he’s in, to be honest) despite the fact that he was wildly underused. I thought this film was very much geared towards my generation, a lot of plot points were extremely relatable and even some of the lines said in the film I had heard or said myself in real life. It’s a comedy, but they kept it real and didn’t pander to the audience.
This film did serve up some clichés, like ‘no woman is complete without a baby’, or ‘learn how to be by yourself but remember that relationships are the end goal’, and ‘oh, the playboy actually does have a heart of gold’. However, I liked the journey that it took us on, and the final moments the movie were very sweet and satisfying, leaving everything on a decidedly positive note. There was a scene near the very end with Damon Wayans Jr. that had me in tears, along with a fantastic wide shot of the Grand Canyon (spoiler… kinda). If I were to rate it, I probably give it four stars, and it’s definitely going on my list of films to watch when I’m down.
If you want a funny movie with heart and real life lessons, look no further than How to be Single.