McCoy on Movies: How to be Single

McCoy on Movies: How to be Single

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Is How to Be Single the perfect cure for a Hallmark holiday? See what our movie critic has to say!

 

“Man, if this movie isn’t good they’ll have to replace this prop with a real bottle!” Robin (Rebel Wilson) and Alice (Dakota Johnson) enjoy a night out on the town in a scene from director Christian Ditter’s romantic comedy HOW TO BE SINGLE. Credit: Barry Wetcher. © 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. and Ratpac-Dune Entertainment, LLC. 

 


WATCH THE TRAILER HERE:
 

 



KEY CAST MEMBERS: Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Leslie Mann, Alison Brie, 
Nicholas Braun, Damon Wayans, Jr., Jason Mantzoukas, Jake Lacy and Anders Holm

WRITER(S): Abby Kohn & Marc Silverstein (screenplay); Liz Tucillo (novel on which the movie is based)

DIRECTOR: Christian Ditter

WEB SITE: http://howtobesinglemovie.com/

60 SECOND PLOT SUMMARY (OR AS CLOSE TO THAT TIME AS ONE CAN MAKE IT): Alice (Dakota Johnson) is dating Josh (Nicholas Braun) and everything is fine. Then Alice, much to Josh’s dismay, decides that they should go on a break so that she can find herself. So naturally she moves to New York and gets a job as a paralegal at a law firm which her new loquacious, free-spirited co-worker Robin (Rebel Wilson) describes as “two guys and a Jewish guy – just kidding: they’re all Jewish.” And while Robin does her best to get Alice out into the city to go party, Alice’s sister Meg (Leslie Mann) is all about her job as a doctor delivering babies, even though she has no desire to have one of her own.

Meanwhile, Tom (Anders Holm) is busy running his bar … And Lucy (Brie Larson) is busy stealing his WiFi signal to run the dating algorithm she’s constructed to help her find the perfect mate … On one of the 10 online dating apps she is using. And poor Ken (Jake Lacy)? He just wants to date Meg, even if he is completely unaware of the decision she has already made by the time he meets her.

But no worries – they’re all about to get a valuable collective lesson in the title of this movie.

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Rebel Wilson and Leslie Mann fans; older women trying to talk themselves into dating younger men; people to see a depiction of an interracial couple in a mainstream film where their race is not a focal point of their relationship; people looking for way to either start or end a friends with benefits relationship

WHO WON’T (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? Rebel Wilson fans who feel her character is one note; people who would like to see Dakota Johnson in something where she can show a better range of her acting talents; those who feel the film’s casual sex depictions are way too casual; people who dislike films where the characters make decisions that feel unnatural/forced for the sake of the story and not based in any real reality; people who like consistent storytelling and/or would prefer for the movie to be much closer to the story in the original novel.

SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? How to Be Single is a lot like real dating in the modern world: There are times when it doesn’t make sense, it’s loaded with people that are a mix of self-loathing, psychopathic and, for the most part, self-destructive even when their behavior obviously is. 

In other words, it’s got some nice parts jumbled up with a whole lot of bad ones that – once again like a real relationship – the movie wants you to overlook even though they are killing your enjoyment of it. 
 
How to Be Single‘s characters aren’t really that likable. That’s kind of a problem because you never really care about what happens to most of them, especially by the time the film tries to come around to making them redeemable. Johnson’s put-on helpless romantic casually jumps from one relationship to the other with fool-hearted whimsy, only to watch it of course blow up in her face – but not because of anything she does, mind you. No, that’s up to the dudes to do whether immediately or later as they are pretty much as one note as can be (save for Jason Mantzoukas as one of the suitors for Brie’s character). 

Wilson’s character is there to serve as the comic relief … But other than a barrage of jokes about how promiscuous she is or feels Johnson’s character should be, there’s not much to her. Whereas sometimes you have the “she’s-fun-because-she’s-so-outrageous” vibe with a character, Wilson’s is more of the “I’d watch this person from a distance but never really wanna hang out them because she’s annoying and not a good person.” In short, her character is just a garden tool  – and no, I don’t mean a rake – that says inappropriate things and then is supposed to be “fun.” This is another main problem with the film as the characters come off either severely undeveloped or illogical thanks to weak storytelling (see the character portrayed by Damon Wayans, Jr.), the others come off as one-dimensional (see Johnson), fun but dumb and one dimensional (see Wilson) or way too good of a person to be in the situation they are in so you’ll root for them because they deserve better (see Jake Lacy). 

Now, will the film make you laugh? A bit – I can’t deny that there aren’t funny parts as Lacy and Mann have a good chemistry together and fans of Mantzoukas work of the FX show The League will be happy to see he can channel his inner Rafi in a calmer, nicer character without losing his comedic edge. However, since Johnson is neither the funny one or one you feel enough care for to get completely invested in her and her alone, she’s kind of just there to take the punches for the most part. 

The fault for that falls squarely on the shoulders of director Christian Ditter and the film’s screenwriting team. By trying to cram so many stories in at once, they fail to really make one of them standout before wrapping everything up at the end in a “see, it all makes sense now, see?!” fashion. (Maybe diverting from the source material wasn’t such a good idea, hmm?) 

In summary, How to Be Single is a movie that’s not bad enough to hate, but definitely not good enough to love or recommend or more than a silly diversion (at a matinee price). However, if you are currently dating someone and have a desire to be single, take them to this movie under the guise of thinking it’s a must-see romantic comedy.

You’ll likely be single by the time the credits roll.

 
OVERALL RATING (OUT OF FOUR POSSIBLE BUCKETS OF POPCORN):

 

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