Genuinely Messy: Our Review of ‘How To Be Single’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - February 12, 2016
Genuinely Messy: Our Review of ‘How To Be Single’

Those single years that we all have are much more important than we ever realize and popular culture is finally giving that fact a little bit of credit.

While admittedly more than a little messy as it tries to do far more than it needs to, How To Be Single actually ends up as a fun romp of a romantic comedy that turns the formula on its ear just enough to be genuinely entertaining.

Being single, doesn’t always come naturally to people; meet Alice (Dakota Johnson) who just initiated a break with her long term boyfriend out of college in order to find out what it is like to be single heading into the big city for her first job.  Enter Robin (Rebel Wilson) a hard drinking party girl who loves the single life in all of the extremes that it can bring.  Along with Alice’s sister Meg (Leslie Mann) a successful gynecologist who has always put work first and Lucy (Alison Brie) a hyper organized woman who thinks she can quantify her one true love down to mathematics and metrics, they all go along on the wild ride of life where nothing ever happens as planned and where you need to learn how to love yourself before.

With so many sub plots going on that I lost count, How To Be Single isn’t a terribly well organized film, but it works as a fun comedic romp that manages to work thanks to a level tone and some strong performances that play off the social absurdities surrounding being single or being in a couple.

HTBS Video 1

Director Christian Ditter is a serviceable enough hand from getting the narrative from A to Z while the writing team of Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein and Dana Fox know their way around the rom-com genre very well.  The ultimate problem is that this movie just tries to do far too much and it could have easily dropped some of the relationship subplots to make for a more fluid experience.  It’s smarter than most in the genre which allows for some genuine laughs to be generated, but much like a wild single person’s night out we don’t necessarily need as much detail as we are getting like we do here.  Thankfully it gets balanced out by our strong female leads that get to play with the romantic conventions more then you’d expect.

While Fifty Shades of Grey isn’t something that is a proud resume moment for any actor, Dakota Johnson manages to shine here, playing into many of the rom-com conventions that her mother Melanie Griffith did back in her heyday.  She holds the screen with a likeable charm that draws us into her character’s story, giving us a flawed yet totally relatable human being to get behind and relate to.  Rebel Wilson plays the freewheeling party girl with aplomb and both her and Johnson have great comedic timing together.   Leslie Mann in the older sister role is actually the strongest character in the bunch as the career dedicated doctor left wondering if she is missing out on anything by putting career first.  She plays it funny, yet vulnerable all at the same time and turns in a genuine and heartfelt performance that anyone can relate to in a hectic and pressure filled world that we all live in.  Alison Brie gets a couple of moments but is surprisingly enough in the backseat for this one as both Johnson and Mann are the ones who carry this all from beginning to end.HTBS-06

It’s not high art, but with a cocktail or two in your system, How To Be Single is one of those movies we can laugh about at the end of the day, because even though most of it is kind of ridiculous there’s enough in it all to make us feel like we got a somewhat genuine slice of our lives in the 21st century.

This post was written by
David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.