By Chaz Lipp
Is the intermittently funny How To Be Single a romantic comedy? Not exactly. This anti-romance is a celebration of being alone. And generally only people who actually are alone tend to embrace that solitude. There’s nothing better than being with someone you love (who loves you back), so this movie’s message is kind of a tough sell. Although, truth be told, we’re getting somewhat of a mixed message here as Single tracks plenty of folks who are happily not single.
Judging by the audience I saw it with, Single easily qualifies as a “chick flick.” Maybe that’s a no-brainer for anyone who saw the trailer, which missold it was a Dakota Johnson/Rebel Wilson buddy romp (Wilson’s borderline-insulting role—i.e. stereotypical crude slob—is far more supporting than lead), but at least it poses enough interesting relationship questions to make it a great debate starter. These characters wind up in many “what would you do?” situations.
Dakota Johnson carries the show quite ably as Alice, a paralegal who decides to break away from her longtime boyfriend Josh (Nicolas Braun). Alice regrets the breakup almost immediately, but immerses herself in the dating scene along with her carefree friend Robin (Wilson). Paralleling Alice’s journey from hook-up to hook-up is online dating expert Lucy (Alison Brie). She enjoys a flirtatious but platonic friendship with bartender and serial one-night-stander Tom (Anders Holm). The problem is, the two plot lines don’t ever converge and feel as if they were conceived for separate projects.
A third thread involves Alice’s obstetrician sister Meg (Leslie Mann), a fortysomething who longs for a baby but doesn’t have a partner. That is, not until she meets the goofily eager (and much younger) Ken (Jake Lacy). Problem is, by that point she’s already gone the turkey baster route after selecting a donor from an online sperm bank database. Again, this feels like a story all its own. It’s as if director Christian Ditter and his trio of screenwriters (Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein, and co-producer Dana Fox) thought of How To Be Single more as a pilot episode to an ensemble TV series instead of a self-contained film.
While it may be a bit unfocused (I didn’t even mention Damon Wayans, Jr.’s touching but waaay under-developed single dad) and even schizo in it’s ‘to be single or not to be single’ quandary, How To Be Single is often LOL funny. As romantic/anti-romantic comedies go, there are much worse ways to spend a couple hours.
How To Be Single Images: Warner Bros. Pictures
Now for a plug: I was happy to use my new MoviePass card to see How To Be Single. MoviePass is the subscription service designed for avid moviegoers—one monthly fee (usually $30, check their official site for details in your area) covers one movie in theaters ever 24 hours. Do the math based on your local cinema ticket prices (that’s $11.50 a pop in my case). If you love seeing movies on the big screen, check out MoviePass (you can even enter their Oscars contest until Feb. 28, two will win free memberships)!