Written by: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein, Dana Fox, Liz Tuccillo (Book).
Directed by: Christian Ditter.
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Leslie Mann, Rebel Wilson.
Running Time: 110 Minutes.
The collective stories of young individuals in New York City battling the dynamic nature of love and relationships as they slowly learn the importance of self-actualization.
In the Big Apple
St. Valentine is back! It’s that time of the year again where America coughs up a fresh stock of RomComs. It’s the final day of university and we find Alice (Dakota Johnson) and Josh (Nicholas Braun) breaking up – much against his wishes.
Cut to modern day New York, where the romantically over-dependent Alice considers herself a free bird and makes an unlikely friend in Robin (Rebel Wilson) during her first day at work. Robin teaches her the ways of singlehood in New York which comes with a whole set of rules, partying and hook-ups.
Simultaneously, they meet Tom (Anders Holm) – a handsome cartoonish character who happens to own the bar they frequently visit. Tom teaches Alice how he manages to be with a lot of women without creating any complications on an emotional level. Meanwhile, Lucy (Alison Brie) who’s a dating app developer and a regular at Tom’s bar, looks to find her perfect man.
Alice soon realizes that Tom’s ‘lifestyle’ is not one she can handle in the long-term so she consults her sister Meg (Leslie Mann). Meg, who is a career-oriented woman, turns out to be of no help as she herself doesn’t believe in companionship as a society mandate. Soon enough, their mindsets are altered – Alice meets David (Damon Wayans Jr.) during an alumni meet, while Meg decides to have a baby via a donor. What ensues is an oddly clichéd culmination of lonely hearts, slowly coming to the realization that embracing themselves is the best way to go about their lives.
Based off a novel with the same name, director Christian Ditter (Love, Rosie & The Crocodiles) fails the movie in all aspects barring the direction itself. The progression of the story is done at the right pace in the first half, but it turned out to be the fall in plot during the second half.
No character left you feeling connected, especially Lucy. The character was so pointless that if you scooped it out of the plot, it would hardly make a difference to the progression. Ditter manages to bring out the best in an ensemble RomCom cast with a little positivity here and there.
The writers are to be blamed majorly for this flick’s poor outcome. Abby Kohn & Marc Silverstein took what was a decent book by Liz Tuccillo, and turned it too viewer-friendly for their own good. Some parts of the story left you wishing for a ‘Ctrl+Forward’ button on VLC player. The film does offer some entertainment occasionally, only to be forgotten because of the clichés and miserable editing.
The score fit in pretty well with the story, and song selection was spot on. Other than that, the only major highlight is the substance which the film brings. Unlike the usual RomCom formula with one character struggling with love, this one features a collection of stories.
Casting: Fifty Shades of Funny
We all know what Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey, Black Mass) has provided us with – and it isn’t much. But it seems like she has finally found herself on screen as she puts up a decent act as Alice. Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect, Bridesmaids) killed her role as the promiscuous Robin, but Hollywood really needs to let go of the archetypal jokes on Wilson’s body type.
Leslie Mann (Knocked Up, 17 Again) is probably the biggest name on this cast. She is the queen of RomComs and this stint is another proof of why. She absolutely nailed her role as Meg. Special credit for the scene with the baby! The biggest question mark in this film is Alison Brie (Community, Get Hard). She’s a big name and was rightly marketed during pre-release but her character was pointless and hardly ever used.
Moving on to the men in the movie – Damon Wayans Jr. (Big Hero 6, The Other Guys), Andres Holm (Workaholics, The Intern) and Nicholas Braun (Perks of Being A Wallflower, Red State). All of them put up decent performances in their respective roles, but were failed by the lack of depth in character. A notable mention goes to Jake Lacy (The Obvious Child) who put in a solid performance as Ken.
All in all
How To Be Single is a supposed to be a journey about standing up on your own and not being romantically dependent, as this is the case for many 20-somethings nowadays. However, due to the lack of character depth and flavor, this movie ends up being like an extended episode of Sex and the City: Normal People Edition.
For the couples looking to connect or reconnect over a RomCom during Valentine’s season, this is probably the worst idea as is evident from the title. For single women who are looking for some inspiration, the appeal of going to the cinemas for it is debatable.
Watch it if you’re:
In the mood for a few laughs OR a single person in mid 20’s looking to kill time.