Starring: Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie
Director: Christian Ditter
Running Time: 110 mins
How To Be Single is an American film about a young woman who decides to take a break with her boyfriend to experience what it’s really like to be single. Along the way, she meets all sorts of personalities who either help her, or show her that she’s not alone.
I admire what this film wants to do: be a female buddy comedy that breaks away from typical romantic comedy tropes, but the fact of the matter is that it just doesn’t work here. How To Be Single is a film that features very few laughs and interesting characters, and attempts to rectify its issues with either dumb humour or the very sort of soap opera romance that it actually wants to avoid.
We’ve seen in the past that you can make a good female buddy movie. It’s something that’s not done enough at the moment, but films like Thelma & Louise and Bridesmaids prove it’s possible. The big difference, however, between those films and How To Be Single is simply down to their focus and emphasis on romance.
Whilst the best female buddy movies focus almost entirely on the friendships and the principal characters, How To Be Single forgoes that in its latter stages and falls right back into generic romantic comedy territory. Although the poor comedy (which I’ll get onto) didn’t do the character-oriented part of the movie justice, it was really frustrating to see this film descend into what felt so much more like a soap opera than a good buddy comedy.
It reminds me a lot of What To Expect When You’re Expecting, a film that tries to turn a blind eye to typical rom-com tropes in exchange for good female characters, but quickly runs out of steam and ideas as it moves back towards a generic and boring final act.
One thing that can often save a movie that fails so massively in the delivery of its premise is good comedy. To an extent, spirited performances from Rebel Wilson and Leslie Mann make some good fun in the opening stages, although they both run out of steam and laughs towards the finale and are countered by somewhat dull turns from Dakota Johnson and Alison Brie.
The comedy here just isn’t up to scratch, at least not to make you really laugh like a proper buddy movie. Rather than finding humour within the characters, we’re subjected to constant dull slapstick and generic ‘awkward’ moments that just aren’t funny enough. I’ll admit there are two good chuckles in this movie, both of them coming from Leslie Mann’s character, but apart from that, this is a really sub-par comedy.
Overall, then, I think How To Be Single really missed its mark. It wants to be a good female buddy comedy, but its poor humour undermine that, only to be worsened by a downhill spiral towards a dull, generic romantic finale, and that’s why it gets a 6.2 from me.