How to Be Single (2016, USA, Christian Ditter, 110 Minutes)
by Robert Joseph Butler
Uneven, unromantic, and mostly unfunny, “How to Be Single” is a chick flick that avoids chick-flick trappings and formulas, however the film feels like leftover subplots from “Sex and the City”.
The screenplay by Dana Fox, Abby Kohn, and Marc Silverstien adapt the source material from the Liz Tuccio best selling novel who also wrote “Sex and The City”, here the writing is just typical Valentine’s Day weekend movie fodder. The film is very unfocused and inconsistent, and it can’t decide what it really wants to be.
Rebel Wilson is a cheeky talent, and as hilarious as she can be here, the material here completely under uses her as a caricature who’s character never goes anywhere. Instead the film focuses on Alice (Dakota Johnson), a fresh college graduate who moves to New York City for job opportunities, on a impulse, takes a break from her college sweetheart, Josh (Nicholas Braun), in which she wants to live outside the relationship lifestyle. She is unfortunate at this because she is easily vulnerable and gushy around any man that show’s any remote interest.
The film lays out familiar themes in how men and women see love and relationships a lot differently. Though the relationship between Josh and Alice is very lightly sketched, and you rarely get to know anything about either character or the nature of their relationship. Alice ends up staying with her sister, Meg (Leslie Mann), a workaholic obstetrician who is motherless and single herself. Serving for major comic relief is Robin (Rebel Wilson) who lectures Alice how to pick up free drinks from guys and how to make being single a luxury with endless sex and getting drunk.
If the marketing didn’t promote the film as a rowdy “Sex and the City” for the texting generation, the film ends up being just a washed down version of “Girls”. It also unfolds in a very generic matter by combining all the ingredients of the low-brow and the sentimental. It doesn’t help that director Christan Ditter makes all the characters out to be cliche stereotypes where everyone has their circular character arc besides Rebel Wilson who is left abandon and lightly sketched.
Ultimately, the film avoids being predictable and formulaic. However the film is very disappointing because all the rowdy potential it has feels too safe, and you really don’t walk out of the theater learning anything beneficial about being single, or anything you might be losing out on in not being single. “How to Be Single” ends up being a huge disappointment that could have captured a lot more magic than it actually does.