If a story is told well, its distinctiveness should not matter. Audiences cannot expect every film to be revolutionary in their respective genre and How to Be Single is by no means revolutionary.
It shouldn’t have to be.
Based on the novel by Liz Tuccillo, How to Be Single focuses on four single women living in New York City: Alice (Dakota Johnson) dumps her college boyfriend; her sister Meg (Leslie Mann) never has time for one since she has always been too focused on her career; Lucy (Alison Brie) is searching for the perfect guy; and Robin (Rebel Wilson) loves parties and sex. The film follows their lives as they struggle with relationships, friendships, and themselves.
It is easy to write How to Be Single off as a silly romantic comedy starring characters that actually live pretty great lives but are too self-absorbed to notice. One can also describe it as a film that tries and fails to subvert common character tropes of the genre. Neither of these assessments is wrong. Nevertheless, the film is still entertaining and has audiences laughing despite its predictable nature.
Dakota Johnson proves once again that she is much more talented than the role she is given. Her character’s storyline may be the most contrite of the bunch but her banter with Rebel Wilson makes me wish they had starred in a Paul Feig comedy instead. I also wish people started giving Rebel Wilson more complex roles. Given Alison Brie’s smaller role, I would have preferred her being the comic relief and Wilson given the chance to act as an actual person. Leslie Mann and Jake Lacy have wonderful chemistry, with her storyline focusing more on romance and the organic comedy that flourishes from it.
Surprisingly, How to Be Single’s largest weakness is its soundtrack. Filled with Top 40 hits, the music is at times too on the nose, temporarily taking the viewer out of the film. Damon Wayans Jr.’s character also seems tonally out of place, given the seriousness of his situation.
Overall, the film offers audiences a lighthearted comedy that may be forgettable, but fun to watch when one is with friends and doesn’t want to think too much. One’s enjoyment of the film may also increase if they have an alcoholic beverage beside them.
Please drink responsibly.
How to Be Single was released on February 12, 2016.