Director: Christian Ditter
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Damon Wayans Jr., Anders Holm, Alison Brie, Nicholas Braun, Jake Lacy, Jason Mantzoukas, Leslie Mann
Release Date: February 17th, 2015
How to be Single is a comedy that lacks the will to embrace its premise and the wit to offer any insight into its subjects. One of the film’s posters notes “Welcome to the party” but this isn’t a story about a party or a celebration. It’s a dreary and uneven look at what it means to be single.
Alice (Dakota Johnson) begins the story in a relationship with the amiable Josh (Nicholas Braun). The couple is comfortable with one another but Alice isn’t really comfortable with herself. At least not completely. “I need to know who I am alone, medical
” she says before putting the brakes on the relationship . Alice moves in with her older sister Meg (Leslie Mann), cheap
a career woman who reluctantly realizes that she wants a child, check
and she begins working at a law firm with the free-spirited Robin (Rebel Wilson), a single woman who loves to party.
The comedy follows the adventures of these three women and Lucy (Alison Brie), an out-of-place character who frequents a bar that Robin spends much of her time at.
Based on the book by Liz Tuccillo, the feature struggles to balance comedic elements with its thematic message. The character of Robin, for instance, enters the picture as a comedic foil. She’s obnoxiously self-involved and immature. During Alice’s initiation at work, Robin talks about the best places to have sex in the office. The commercials make it seem like Wilson is the star here but for her character seemingly disappears halfway through the film — as the other characters enter relationships — only to reappear towards the end.
The paramours here are played by a credible group of actors who aren’t given much to do. There’s Tom (Anders Holm), the bartender who does everything possible to get women out of his apartment after one night stands and sleeps with several of the characters here. There’s Ken (Jake Lacy), the goofy but likeable guy who starts a relationship with Meg. There’s David (Damon Wayans Jr.), a single father who starts a relationship with Alice only to be frightened off when she gets too close to his impressionable daughter.
These supporting characters all had potential but the screenwriting team of Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein, and Dana Fox seemingly aren’t interested in these characters. Each of them comes off as one-note and easily forgettable.
The heart of the film belongs to the leading female characters, which would be a great thing if those characters really developed or grew over time. As these women go through relationships, they don’t seem to learn much about themselves or relationships in general. There’s no overriding theme or story.
It’s just like a series of skits — relationships 101 —but none of them are funny and all of them are chock full of silly lines and unrelenting goofiness.
In its final moments, the film seems to really develop sense of itself. There’s a conclusion here that suggests that the movie had a point of view but was unwilling to really embrace it. The end seems to reflect the idea that this story had potential and only found it at the end of the production. By that time, it’s too late to really have much of an impact. How to be Single never really learns how to be interesting until it was too late to matter.
Review by: John Hanlon