For a movie titled ‘How to Be Single,’ the female characters spend a great deal of time pursuing eligible bachelors in New York City. Based on a popular book by Liz Tuccillo who also wrote for the HBO series ‘Sex in the City,’ you would think this is just another insipid look at white privileged women looking for sex in the Big Apple. While several characters do indulge in one-night stands, the story has its poignant moments. ‘How to Be Single’ not only shows women learning how to deal with painful break-ups but appreciating the solitude of being alone before they find that special someone in their lives. Some of the subplots are hit or miss but for the most part the cast is likable and keeps the audience in stitches.
The story revolves around Alice (Dakota Johnson), who decides to take a break from her college boyfriend Josh (Nicholas Braun). She wants to experience living on her own and be completely independent. Her distraught boyfriend is crushed and thinks she just wants to sleep around with other men. She decides to relocate to Manhattan and take a job as a paralegal at a law firm. After completing her first day of work, her co-worker Robin (Rebel Wilson) coaxes her into a night of bar-hopping. The next day, they both end up hung over at Meg’s (Leslie Mann) apartment. Meg is Alice’s older sister that happens to be a highly successful doctor. Alice soon realizes that being single is not all it is cracked up to be and that Josh may not be an option to fall back on any longer.
The New York City that these women inhabit takes on a fairytale quality. Even though they have mediocre paralegal jobs, they wear fashionable clothes, live in tony apartments, and have no money worries. It’s a world that only exists in movies but the girls are so likable, you cannot help but root for their happiness. Johnson is playing the cutesy role she made so appealing in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’ She has good comedic timing and can easily become the next queen of romantic comedies. Wilson once again plays the wild and raunchy girlfriend. When the story gets close to running out of steam, she saves it with a laugh or two. Even Mann’s character gets the laughs as a career-driven doctor that wants to have a baby of her own. Her subplot is one of the most tender as she becomes attracted to an offbeat younger man named Ken (Jake Lacy). The strangest subplot is a preppy woman Lucy (Alison Brie) who rents an apartment above a singles bar and uses the free Wi-Fi to peruse dating websites and meet potential romantic connections at the bar. It seems a bit disconnected from the rest of the story.
What would a rom-com be like without a cad? Tom (Anders Holm) plays a bar owner where the singles go to party. He’s a likable guy that has gotten the one-night stand down to a science. Women know he’s a bad boy but they are attracted to him like a moth to light. According to Robin, every girl has a fixed number of drinks that will drop her panties off. Alice knows this but still takes a bite out of the forbidden fruit. She ends up as another conquest of Tom’s. The next morning she takes the walk of shame back to her apartment. Johnson’s character is so sweet. Gradually she becomes okay with being alone. It’s actually fun to watch her become a strong and independent woman. It’s not to say she is not looking for Mr. Right. It’s simply nice to see her not relying on a man to find happiness.
For a romantic comedy, director Christian Ditter and cinematographer Christian Rein create an enticing and fun Manhattan. Everybody is attractive, upwardly mobile and fun. It’s a fantasy but that’s what makes a romantic comedy so enchanting. It’s a solid romantic drama that is perfect for a girls’ night out. ‘How to Be Single’ never breaks new ground but it has enough funny and thoughtful moments to make it a satisfying escape. Check out the official trailer https://youtu.be/akwGjUeU6YA.