Hot Take: You’re allowed to enjoy a movie that isn’t necessarily good.
There’s something about How to Be Single that’s enjoyable to watch. It is way too long, it gives a very poor depiction of New York City and it tries to tell too many stories at once (there are roughly 6 different storylines the film tries to wrap up in the end) but it’s very watchable and occasionally it makes a good point.
What’s weird about How to Be Single is how, on one hand, it can be very formulaic (not that we’ve ever seen anyone try to tell a tale of four women trying to survive relationship-wise, especially not in New York City) and, on the other hand, somewhat unconventional (people actually do have disease-free sex without pregnancy from time to time, even if it is casual and involves alcohol).
Another oddity is the way the cast is utilized. Dakota Johnson, particularly lifeless in Fifty Shades of Grey, is surprisingly, awkwardly charming in the main role of Alice. Rebel Wilson and Leslie Mann, the two most established and defined actresses in the movie, are basically the character they’ve played best in any of their other movies. Wilson has carried over Fat Amy to How to Be Single and Mann’s signature character eventually appears from beneath some workaholic doctor scrubs. The most talented actress of the bunch, Alison Brie, is completely wasted in the one rom-com stereotype the film felt compelled to play by the book.
By film’s end, I was as miffed as I was titillated. How to Be Single could have been better but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- New York City
There’s nothing better than New York as the backdrop to a movie. It’s not that How to Be Single gets anything right (there’s no way some of these characters could afford their lifestyle based on the information we’re presented, it’s not that easy to get around and find me a bar that spaced out with such quality lighting and I’ll buy you a drink) but the city is sexy on film especially caked in this much cover up.
- There’s Something About Dakota
I walked into How to Be Single sure of one thing — I’m going to hate Dakota Johnson’s performance. I didn’t. I actually enjoyed it. It’s Zac Efron all over again, isn’t it?
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Rebel Wilson
Funny in the trailers for the film. It turns out 90% of her scenes are, well, in the trailers! Here’s hoping somewhere in the future Wilson gets a chance to have a little bit of range in her roles.
- Unconventionally Cliché
It feels like How to Be Single spends a lot of time trying to prove itself and go out of it’s way to pretend it is different. It wants to be unconventional but never can quite escape the cliché of it all. At one point, the film makes a few snide jokes about Sex & The City and then continues to be a younger cousin, right down to the main character’s narration.
Is it really that hard to create quality roles for black women? Alison Brie’s character didn’t even interact with the other three women in the film… she didn’t even have to be friends with the other characters. There is a black male in the movie though (Marlon Wayans Jr.). He’s a rich, single parent raising his daughter on his own because his wife passed away.