How To Be Single

Year: 2016
Director: Christian Ditter
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Leslie Mann, Alison Brie
Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes

For the record, I had not a shred of interest in seeing this film. Not one iota of my being had the urge to spend a couple of hours of my life watching a film which looked, quite frankly, shit. But my friend didn’t have the bottle to go and see ‘The Witch’, so he suggested we see something “funny”. Let me tell you, ‘How To Be Single’ is not the way to go if you’re looking for something funny.

The premise of the story is by no means unique, but if utilised correctly, it can be a winning formula. We follow for the most part, Alice (Dakota Johnson), a girl looking to work herself out before settling down for good with her long-term boyfriend. To eradicate her uncertainty, she suggests the couple go on a break, and anyone who’s watched ‘Friends’ knows this is a bad idea. She pairs up with her party girl co-worker, Robin (Rebel Wilson), who shows her one way of being single; go to bars, get drunk and make out with anyone. Along the way, we are also introduced to Meg (Leslie Mann), Alice’s older sister, who realises that whilst she’s been carving out a career, she’s forgotten to start a family, and Lucy (Alison Brie), a twenty-something dating site addict who wants to meet Mr. Perfect. All four of these women have a very different approach to single life, and frankly not one of them is interesting.

Dakota Johnson at least gives a better showing here than she did in ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’, offering the odd moment of mild humour and a certain endearing quality, but if she’s going to continue in this vein, her career prospects don’t look too great. My main qualm with the actors and characterisations was Rebel Wilson, who before this, I would have touted as the funniest of the pack. With her breakout performance in ‘Pitch Perfect’, we saw a crude, rather slapstick humour which was a breath of fresh air. Now, almost four years later, Wilson is still doing the exact same thing, and it’s getting very, very tired. Alison Brie and Leslie Mann are little more than bit-parts here (don’t be fooled by the posters, Alison Brie doesn’t even interact with the other ladies). Alison Brie arguably provides the most humour, but we just don’t see enough of her and she feels like a character which is shoehorned into the script. I really like Leslie Mann (not least because I find her very attractive) and she doesn’t disgrace herself here, but again, her character is criminally under-explored. I have to also give a mention to ‘Workaholics’ star Anders Holm, who pops up as the landlord of the local bar, and pretty much steals the show.

The problem here is that ‘How To Be Single’ tries to be clever by detailing these four very different women and their very different approaches to singledom, but doesn’t manage to give us enough of any; it’s a half-arsed job from the writers, which just feels rushed and lazy. On top of that, the jokes are really, really poor. Great comedy films these days are such a rarity, but it’s not particularly difficult to find a half-decent comedy with some cheap laughs and a bit of entertainment. With ‘How To Be Single’, I think I may have sniggered twice throughout the whole film. I was hoping it might have been a film even slightly similar to ‘Bridesmaids’ in style and humour, but this effort is trailing so far behind that it feels wrong to even class it as a comedy.

Truth be told, the romantic aspect of ‘How To Be Single’ far outweighs any comedic attempts, and even on a romantic level, the film is guilty of clichéd scenarios and predictable, drawn-out developments. It’s really difficult to think of anything positive to say actually, so maybe I should draw the line here and simply say – don’t waste your time and money. Regardless of who you are – age, gender, interests – I don’t think anyone would leave this film feeling remotely satisfied. Ultimately, ‘How To Be Single’ will probably stand as one of the worst films of 2016.

Jakob’s rating: 4.0 out of 10
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