Directed by Christian Ditter
Written by Dana Fox, Abby Kohn, and Marc Silverstein
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie, Leslie Mann, and Jason Mantzouaks
“How to Be Single” is a romantic comedy with ambition, but that ultimately that ambition is too big for the movie. “How to Be Single” tries to circumvent the clichés of the romantic comedy genre, but it ends falling into the trappings of these clichés, all be it in a slightly different context. The film follows four single women: the “fun” single, the overly desperate to get married single, the one with the ticking biological clock, and the recently single after a long relationship.
The film, to its credit, is a female-centric rom-com with two male characters. Two “real” male characters, the other men in the movie are more part of the story rather than real characters. The lack of men allowed the movie to focus on the women, well, that is not entirely accurate. The only character that is fully fleshed out is Leslie Mann’s. She could have been played like the typical woman thinking about her biological clock ticking, she is not, she makes her decision because she feels she is ready. The movie subtly implies this, though it never outright says it, and at the end even though she can handle it alone she decides she does not want to. While Mann has a full, I believe the movie failed in fully exploring the subtext of her arc.
“How to Be Single” is not the traditional rom-com – a relationship between a couple – this movie focuses on the relationship between the character played Dakota Johnson and herself. Johnson’s character, however, never receives a full arc. The character sets out to find herself, but only realizes that she defines herself by relationships and in the end never answers the question who am I?
“How to Be Single” as a whole is a fine movie. Alison Brie, Leslie Mann, and Jason Mantzouaks were great. Mantzouaks, as he always does, steals the scenes he is in and provides a nice respite in a comedy where less than half the jokes land.
While the film is short, only running 109 minutes, it could have been cut down to 90-95 easily. The film can lose anything implying that Johnson and the bartender are anything more than just friends, and it could lose the entire Damon Wayans, Jr. plot line entirely. Those two subplots are useless to the movie, and all they do is drag the movie out.
“How to Be Single” is not a terrible movie by any definition, but its ambition for the kind of movie it wants to be is much too grand for the movie that it is. You will laugh a little, and you will not hate yourself for having to sit through it.