Directed by Christian Ditter
Starring Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Leslie Mann
Released on 27th June 2016
The number of single people in the UK is officially on the up. It’s just over a third, so not the majority, but nor is it a small minority. The popular theory goes that you’re not ready to be in a long term relationship until you’re comfortable with your own company. So maybe we need to learn to be single.
But the strange thing about How To Be Single is that there’s only one character who genuinely seems to be happy in her own skin – hoping to meet the right person, of course, but not actively pursuing it. The others are constantly in search, one way or another, for that elusive perfect partner.
And from the film there seem to be an awful lot of singles in New York. Alice (Dakota Johnson) who’s moved there while on a self-imposed break from her long-term boyfriend. It’s not long before she wants them to get back together, but he’s met somebody else, so she has to get back into the dating scene. At work, she makes friends with Robin (Rebel Wilson) a party animal with theories on all aspects of dating and who introduces her to a whole new way of life. Alice’s sister, Meg (Leslie Mann) is a doctor who decides to have a baby by sperm donor, but meets a younger man at much the same time. And Lucy (Alison Brie) has “desperate” faintly etched on her forehead – except when it comes to lothario barman Tom (Anders Holm), who genuinely has feelings for her.
Most of them spend very little time without a partner, so it’s not about being single at all. The only one who is genuinely single is Robin and even she fesses up that she wants to meet the right person. For somebody so showy and raucous, her standards are unexpectedly high and she actively dislikes the way Alice becomes soppy when there’s a potential boyfriend on the scene. All of which means that it’s a film that tries to put people into nice neat couples – heterosexual couples at that, because nobody has other preferences. It’s 100% straight. And rather out of touch.
If the film sets out to look at a dilemma, it’s the one expressed by Alice towards the end. While you’re being single, you could miss the opportunity to be with somebody really great. Essentially, it’s just another “what if” question about life, and rather an empty one coming from somebody who really is quite needy – and eventually does find that being single has some definite advantages.
As the women move from one man to another – and vice versa – it feels like 20-Somethings Sex In The City. Not all the couples are convincing, although the best pairing is Meg and Ken (Jake Lacy), who she meets at an office party and who dreams of being a stay at home dad. She resists, he persists and he’s such a nice guy that it’s only a matter of time before she falls for him.
If you’re expecting something loud, crude and raunchy – which is what the DVD cover suggests – you’ll be surprised. Anything fitting that description comes from Rebel Wilson, because that’s what she’s there to do, constantly with a bottle of booze in hand, full of crude on-liners and almost constantly recovering from the night before. Take her away, and what’s left is something mildly amusing with an attractive cast. But its life lesson is more than familiar and the film as a whole offers little that’s new.
So, get the girls together, make sure they bring a few bottles and you’ll have an enjoyable night in. Although the alcohol might make you think the film is funnier than it really is.
How To Be Single is released on DVD on Monday, 27 June and reviewed on Talking Pictures on Thursday, 30 June.