ByJames Wood, writer at
Unabashed Transformers fan. Man crush on Tom Hardy. Avid fan of Tommy Wiseau's cult disasterpiece The Room.
James Wood

I’m open to watching any film, any genre, any length, from anywhere. You have to try everything out, it’s good to mix things up and check out new things. Lately, I’ve noticed a slightly irritating trend with the people I hang out with at uni and also back home. Whenever a film like Bridesmaids, Sisters or Trainwreck comes out, I’m always up for seeing films like that, any rom-com/female led comedy. Women are just as funny as men, plus I love a good laugh in the cinema.

Why is it no one I know will go and see these films because they label them as “a film for girls, oh it’s too girly, I don’t want to watch a film like that”. This attitude is annoying me, I don’t go to the cinema alone, and when How To Be Single was in theatres, no one would join me because they had this attitude, it’s just a fun looking, fluffy rom-com with a well-known cast and a different take on the genre. I missed out, but luckily I’ve finally caught it and I’m glad to say this film was worth waiting for, despite a few criticisms aimed at some technical aspects and the length.

The story follows four women in New York each on different paths to discovery and love. Everyday things from work, family and old lovers get in the way, but in the Big Apple, anything can happen, and that's what How To Be Single looks at. Meet Alice (Dakota Johnson) who moves to New York to find out who she really is, taking a break from her boyfriend. As she starts her new job alongside eccentric co-worker Robin (Rebel Wilson) she finds that having fun is the way to move on, but love strikes along the way. For Meg (Leslie Mann) time is ticking on in her mind, so she finds a sperm donor in hopes to have a baby, and Lucy (Alison Brie) just can't quite find that perfect guy.

It all sounds very corny, but it's not the most cloyingly cheesy rom-com you've seen, aside from some camerawork choices, in which the camera takes on a sort of holiday vlog style, where the smooth shots seen in the majority of the film turn into a shuddery mess that descends into home video territory. If you've the 2015 comedy drama Miss You Already with Drew Barrymore and Toni Colette, you'll know what I mean. The length is a tad unnecessary, running in at 110 minutes, there are some of scenes that could be done without, such as the acapella girl group in which Alice gets stuck in the middle of. But, I wasn't bored at anytime, I just felt a snappier pace and some quicker editing choices may have added more style and speed to the overall film.

What really makes the film worth watching is the cast and their brilliant performances. The casting is spot-on with this one, down to main players and even smaller supporting stars like Jason Mantzoukas. Dakota Johnson is incredible, balancing sharp comedic timing in many funny moments to some surprisingly charming and heart-warming scenes, and she does it with ease. I howled with laughter when she approaches a group of guys and opens with "What's up ya'll? Wow, I don't know why I just said ya'll, I meant you all". She rambles on and embarrass herself, it's cringe yet hysterical. I loved the scenes where she decides to move on from her ex once for all, she delivers this almost free woman persona and it's a great end.

Rebel Wilson is as funny as ever, even cruder than I thought she could be, albeit slightly underused. Leslie Mann, one of my favourite actresses, finally gets given a role where she isn't reduced to winging and crying (This Is 40, The Change-Up) and proves herself a very earnest and charming star, a scene that really sees her performance excel is when she is sat with a baby, and begins to realise she wants a baby, this moment is the nicest scene in the entire film, and Mann delivers! Alison Brie is delightfully energetic, her character Lucy is constantly looking for the right guy but as time goes on she begins to fret and worry, her best moment is when she breaks down as she reads to a bunch of kids in a bookstore. The lead ensemble nail it and they couldn't have picked better actresses to do the job, a big thumbs up!

Damon Wayans Jr really surprised me in an emotionally charged role in which he really gets it right! I'm used to seeing him be the funny guy, here he is trying to get over the loss of his wife whilst looking after his child, and in a terrific closing scene for his character, he sits his daughter down and opens up about his wife, it's a really sweet and well constructed scene that manages to avoid the cheese.

My only other slight issue is the longed out scene where Alice falls out with her best friend Robin, they go off their separate ways, and by the ending they reconcile their friendship. This film attempts to divert away from the usual cliches but in some cases such as this, it dives straight into the cliche without realising. Now and again the film also loses steam with laughs, inconsistency creeps in where nothing particularly amusing or romantic happens, leaving a gaping whole of just characters moping around the screen.

However, when the performances are this good and the overall entertainment value stays strong you really can't go wrong with this film. Yes it has its flaws, as most rom-coms do, as I find this genre is really hard to nail when it comes to balancing the romance with the comedy. How To Be Single struggles in keeping the balance in places but it has plenty of hilarious moments, and the cinematography captures New York in a different light, mostly from some stunning balcony shots bathed in warm sunlight, which aids the romantic tone nicely. Recommended!

Rating: 7/10


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