Main Cast: Dakota Johnson
Directed By: Christian Ditter
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
How to be Single is a film that will altogether gain a mixed review from me for a wide variety of reasons. There was not really a moment where I thought the movie was terrible yet there was nothing that was really great either. I was wondering why the film title was called “How to be Single” when it should have been called “How to Screw Yourself Over While Screwing Other People in the Process”. It was half amusing, half dramatic but How to be Single plays safe and shoots in all sorts of directions hoping something works. Some do and some don’t. It will entertain the young women it is marketed towards but it will remain to be seen if this film will bring interest to others.
The whole film shows an intertwining series of stories with the common thread revolving around what the characters learn about relationships through the many mistakes they make. There were some scenes that were particularly funny (all involving Rebel Wilson’s character) and there was others that were meant to be dramatic that kind-of worked. At the same time there was aimless direction from Christian Ditter in a scattershot fest of ideas with some serious déjà vu with all the characters making the same mistakes over and over again and uneven narrative pacing..
Alice (Dakota Johnson) is a recent graduate in a relationship that wants to be newly single. Robin (Rebel Wilson) shows Alice the party life around New York City and we see Alice along the highs and lows of the party life she is leading. Eventually all the characters realize their fate and where they belong in their world. There are 3 or 4 subplots in this film. Some of these subplots that worked include Leslie Mann’s character trying to have a baby from a donor and a relationship with a man after years of enjoying the single life. A subplot that did not work was dating computer analyst called Lucy who tries to find a guy through online dating. This doesn’t work because that story is so detached from the other subplots it could have been cut out.
Praise and criticism has to go to the director Christian Ditter. I will reward him with praise first. He tries to weave in and out of the lives of all the people in the film and lets them have their day in court by giving them enough screen time. There are also different endings for all the women and men that are not stale and predictable (like they all get married and live happily ever after). Each ending comes from a life lesson that is learned from these characters. They have heartwarming scenes and messages about embracing love despite fear while also encouraging independence from significant others.
Now the criticism from the director comes from how disjointed the film is from narrative pacing, character development and what genre this film is meant to be. The pacing of this film is not smooth at all because all these characters live the same life and same mistakes over and over again before they suddenly have moments of clarity and change their perspectives and behavior at a moments notice (I call it Deux Ex Clarita. I know it’s a bad pun. Sue me). It is not a smooth transition that is believable. Also the film will be a romantic comedy one minute and a romantic drama the next that gives overall atmosphere of the film a lack of consistency.
Overall if you don’t like the violence in films such as Deadpool this is a decent substitute considering that there is a strong cast, there are laughs in it and the endings are not cliché and predictable. But it is also plays safe by offering a scattershot fest hoping a bullet hits the target something. A baseball allegory would be that this film will get foul balls and strikes but at least they score singles and don’t concede outs. **1/2