#REVIEW: “HOW TO BE SINGLE”
Review by Siobhan Rich for Mr. Will Wong
Imagine pitching a Valentine’s Day movie about people who celebrate the joys of being single, the singular happiness of being part of a pair, the giddiness of being promiscuous, and the importance of being true to oneself. That is what director Christian Ditter has accomplished with How To Be Single. Produced by Drew Barrymore’s Flower Films and written by the team behind The Vow, Never Been Kissed and Valentine’s Day (Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein; here supported by Dana Fox), this unlikely romantic comedy tries to remind its audience that not everyone will get or even want the same happily ever after.
The always adorable Dakota Johnson stars as Alice, a fresh Wesleyan graduate who has broken up with her long-term boyfriend (Nicholas Braun) so she can find herself through singlehood. Guiding her in this quest is coworker and perpetual singleton Robin (Rebel Wilson), who seeks to introduce the innocent Alice to a world of one night stands and the art of the pick-up. Alice’s sister Meg (Leslie Mann) is along for emotional support while she follows her own journey toward single motherhood. Rounding out the quartet but never actually part of the group is Alison Brie’s Lucy whose single minded goal is to find her mate and marry.
Of course all these heteronormative ladies need potential mates which is where Anders Holm, Jason Mantzoukas, Colin Jost and Jake Lacey come in. The underutilized Damon Wayans Jr. costars as Johnson’s love interest and is sadly robbed of what could be a very interesting storyline as a single, widowed father. A lack of screen time for their relationship cheats their story of any emotional impact this arc may have deserved.
For perhaps the first time, Rebel Wilson’s weight is neither a punchline nor the sole driving force behind her characterization. That said, she deserves better than crass one-dimensional sidekicks and pratfalls. In How To Be Single, Ms. Wilson’s character is introduced as the only person who has truly embraced singlehood and wends her way through life with no desire to be part of an “us” or a “we.” Her storyline is not one of romance but rather friendship and in a world where women are often depicted as adversaries by the media perhaps a lack of depth can be forgiven in honour of sisterhood.
This Valentine’s Day, movie choices will include a loveable mercenary, a Spark at romance, a runway comedy, and a movie about four women who take a chance not on the men in their lives but on themselves. Being single on Valentine’s Day isn’t the end of the world but it is definitely a great premise for a movie about self-discovery.
Warner Bros. Pictures Canada releases How To Be Single in theatres on Friday, February 12, 2016.