Movie Review: “How to Be Single” – More Drama Than Comedy

Written by Caitlin Cooper March 05, 2016

how to be single

Usually around Valentine’s Day, the theater has a few rom-coms, but this year we got Deadpool and How to Be Single (let’s not talk about The Choice). Even though How to Be Single is this year’s token rom-com, it managed to be more than the usual raunchy or overly cheesy story you might expect. Frankly, the trailer doesn’t really do the movie justice, but because it under-sold it I was pleasantly surprised with the film. While it may not be perfect, what started as an oddball comedy transitioned into a surprisingly deep movie that managed to capture the audience.

How to Be Single is a film about four women learning what they want out of life among mishaps and misadventures in dating, friendship, etc. The story mainly follows Alice (Dakota Johnson), a recent college graduate seeking love and adventure in NYC before she plans to settle down with her college boyfriend. But when he falls for someone else, she’s left with more freedom than she bargained for. At her new job, she meets Robin (Rebel Wilson), an extreme party-goer, who’s convinced she knows what’s best for Alice as a newly single woman. But what Alice comes to learn is that she needs to figure out who she is and what she wants rather than listening to what works for her friend. Alice’s sister, Meg (Leslie Mann), finds love in the most unexpected way, and has to come to terms with the fact that her life isn’t going to be traditional. And Lucy (Alison Brie) is so determined to find love that she finds herself increasingly frustrated when a relationship doesn’t work out.

“The thing about being single is, you should cherish it.”

How to Be Single begins with good comedy – which sometimes stretches too much into the unrealistic – that had the audience laughing. Alice is a recent grad who thinks having a temporary relationship pause as she moves to NYC for work will allow her time to figure out who she is and give her some time to get used to being an adult. Meg wants a baby, and she wants meaningless sex. Robin is all about having a good time, and she has no plans to settle down any time soon. Lucy is growing tired of the disappointing dating game, and feels like she’s missing out when everyone she knows is already married or about to be. Each woman is different, and they learn that what works for one of them doesn’t work for all of them. Robin isn’t ready to change yet, and that’s fine. Meg ends up with a baby through IVF and a boyfriend by accident; despite her fear that it won’t work out, she ultimately finds the happiness she desired even if it wasn’t in the way she expected. Lucy finally meets someone who appreciates how intense she can be. Alice learns that one night stands aren’t for her, and that she’s better off without her ex-boyfriend. She comes to appreciate being single, because she learns who she is and what she wants, and she learns how to be independent. She comes to cherish her time being single, while being open to love when it does come. I like that How to Be Single doesn’t end with the main character finding romance, as most do. Instead, she finds lasting friendships and grows closer with her sister. I never expected that the film would transition from silly comedy with stereotypical female characters to something more serious with substance. But while the ending may be sentimental, it works perfectly for the film’s message.

how to be single

Part of what made me want to see How to Be Single is the cast. Wilson is known for being funny (Pitch Perfect is one of my favourite comedies), and she quite funny in this role, too. Johnson’s awkwardness and soft-spoken voice fit with her character and adds to the comedy. She does really well leading the film. Mann is typically that oddball, intense character but she does it well. Aside from Alice’s story, Meg’s is my favourite in the movie. Brie’s character is a smaller presence than the others, and doesn’t quite fit but there’s one scene where she has a breakdown at work ranting about men and dating and it’s awesome. Jake Lacy is easily the best male character in How to Be Single; he’s adorable, funny, and vulnerable. Though Damon Wayans Jr. plays a recently widowed single father, and his plot-line adds more emotion to the story.

“This is New York City. There’s like a billion people outside that door.”

How to Be Single aims to be similar to Bridemaids and other female-centered comedies, and while it isn’t as good as Bridesmaids, it managed to be surprisingly serious at times and that worked in the film’s favour. The story is sometimes real, sometimes cliche, and sometimes silly, but the comedy and the drama work together fairly well to make a movie that’s better than I expected.

My Rating: 7/10

how to be single

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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