Movie Review: How to Be Single

– by Cecily Knobler –

How-To-Be-Single-Movie-PosterDirected by Christian Ditter

Starring Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson and Leslie Mann

Well now this is embarrassing. I pride myself on being the cynical, rom-com-formula-hating spinster who sees through all the manipulation writers/directors/composers concoct to get my tears. (Side note: Does anyone really pride themselves on being a spinster? What actually IS a spinster? You have to be like 60, right? And have cats. I’m nowhere near that, and I have a dog. But I’m single. And my dog hates everyone I date, except this one gentleman caller who I fear might have been a woman at one time.) So yeah, modern romantic comedies tend to have their work cut out for them with me. But lately, this has changed. Maybe it’s because I, deep down, actually believe in real love and I certainly want it. But for whatever reason, this film didn’t make me want to vomit.

Based on the book by Liz Tuccillo, this has all the elements of your traditional “super-cute chicks who can’t find boyfriends” characters and adorably first-world-problem set-pieces. (Chocolate pancake eateries are adorable, yo!) But the subtle beauty of Dakota Johnson (yes, the very Dakota Johnson you just saw chained up in a pleasure chamber in 50 Shades) really helps to ground this. Her buddy – the wild, wacky sidekick (Rebel Wilson) who has no life other than to further her friends agendas, says the dirtiest things, but you love her anyway because SOMEBODY’S gotta keep the party going, right? Alison Brie, of course, is the uptight lady who stares at wedding magazines and is so desperate to find love, she will literally settle for anyone.

How am I doing? I’m not making this sound very good, am I? But wait. Then, there’s the delightful Leslie Mann who thinks perhaps love has forgotten her, but realizes she can find it elsewhere. The male characters (including Jake Lacy, Damon Wayans Jr. and Nicholas Braun) actually seem to be better developed and like actual humans you’d want to hang out with, rather than manic caricatures.

This film is disjointed, hacky and many of the jokes don’t land. And yet there is a sweetness to the themes about broken hearts, friendship and sisterhood to which I really connected. Once it finds its footing (in the second act), it kept me interested and engaged. Oh and I cried at the end, which either means my meds need to be readjusted, or they knew exactly what they were doing.

Solid B.