Was it just me, or were the trailers for this movie freakishly long? In any case, I had no high hopes that this movie would be good. Why? Rebel Wilson. She is the female equivalent to Will Ferrell to me: completely, utterly, and hopelessly unfunny. Sure, I thought she was funny in the first PITCH PERFECT, but even her shtick rode up on me even then. Since then, it’s been that character and ONLY that character for her, and this role looked like it’d annoy me just as much. Pretty much nothing looked good and I expected to hate this movie a lot. Unfortunately sober, I sat and watched this movie. Did I hate it as much as I thought I was going to? Well, here it is, kids. My honest opinion of HOW TO BE SINGLE.
The story primarily follows Alive (Dakota Johnson). She met a really good guy at the beginning of college named Josh (Nicholas Braun). They have a fine relationship, but after they graduate, Alice decides that she wants a break from Josh to figure herself out, claiming that she’s never been on her own before and never figured out how she’d be by herself. Moving to New York and living with her older doctor and baby-wishing sister, Meg (Leslie Man), Alice quickly lands a job and instantly meets the wild, raunchy, and eccentric Robin (Rebel Wilson) and the two become best friends. Well, Robin starts taking her out to show her what it means to be single. Essentially, Alice starts sleeping around and drinking a lot. It isn’t long before she realizes that she doesn’t like being single and wants her life back with Josh. Well, turns out that Josh found someone new in the time that they were apart and officially break up. So begins an emotional journey for Alice to figure out what she is going to do now that she has no safety net to fall back on.
While I admit that the movie isn’t AS BAD as I thought it would be, I still can’t call it a good film.
I left this movie thinking that there was potential here. Considering it came out near Valentines Day and there’s plenty of single people out there, this film could have been a celebration of the single life. Instead, we get the infuriatingly bland and desperate protagonist Alice, who spends the entire movie having random sex with people and then turning right around pining for one that got away, or even worse, “wishing she knew who she was.” I mean, there’s a moment in the beginning where she’s complaining to Josh how she keeps saying that she wants to do all these amazing things, but never does them. Okay, first of all, what held you back before? Relationships? If you were in any real relationship before, your significant other would have encouraged you to do rock-climbing. You have no excuses there. Financials? That’d be a fair argument. So explain how you are able to spend so much money on all that alcohol when you’re going out with Robin ALL THE TIME. You moved to New York and live rather cheaply with your sister, yet we never see you on your laptop looking for mountains to climb or anything. Just eating ice cream in your pajamas, crying over a boyfriend that you gave up or getting laid. I guess the power of lady boners outweighs your need for independence.
I want to believe that Johnson can act. Despite her brief role in BLACK MASS, she was great. Pretty standout, actually, as the rest of the film was not so interesting. That’s saying a lot since this is the same woman in the critically and publicly hated FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, in which her acting abilities were the target of nearly everyone. But the more I try to defend her talent, the more ammunition someone else has against me, and I have a thin defense. Here’s to hoping that Johnson picks better roles in the future and this whole FIFTY SHADES franchise dies quickly and she’ll be free enough to get better roles.
Glued to Alice’s hip is the unbearably obnoxious Robin getting her drunk and laid. It’s a stereotypical Wilson role. Overly sexualized, raunchy, and self-absorbed. I know this humor hits home for a lot of people out there, but I just can’t stand these roles that Wilson keeps accepting. Her name attached to a movie is automatically me thinking that this movie will eventually go downhill. Robin is no different. Every scene is ruined by her. Her jokes a predictable and miss their marks every time.
These women are supposed to represent every single person? Is that what they think single people do? Get black-out drunk and fuck everything that moves? I won’t deny that there are people out there who act like this, probably even worse, but every character in this movie is either over-the-top loving the single life, or wishing they were in a relationship. So far, the movie is saying, “how to be single: alcohol poisoning and fucking.” So far, a twelve year old could have come up with this. What about the single people who don’t drink? What about the single people who don’t go out? Who in this movie represents them? Is there something wrong with the single people who just wake up in the morning and go to work, trying to pleasant to those around them, try to do a little good in their lives? Those who stay home, play video games, hang out with friends in quiet settings? This movie almost seems like it’s shaming anyone who doesn’t party and live like Robin, and that’s kind of messed up. If the movie wanted to be smarter and feel more real, it’d tackle that side of being single too, but because it doesn’t, it’s a pretty shallow film as whole.
One enjoyable element was Lucy, played by Alison Brie, but even that gets ruined. Her gimmick is that she’s convinced she’s made an app that will match her with a man that over the course of, what was it, eighteen months will end up married and live happily ever after. This, of course, is totally crazy and gets her more than a few sideways looks. But there are scenes where she’s obviously not oblivious to men with issues greater than hers. This provides some great comedy. Even the more awkward scenes where revealed only dating a guy for a few months, she’s making him bag lunches and getting him gifts that are too nice.
However, the comedy her character brings is kind of ruined when she meets George, played by a new hate of mine, Jason Mantzoukas. Now Lucy is ripping her shirt open, revealing her tits, and fallen for George. This could have been forgiven. As a heterosexual male, I have no problems with staring at Brie’s assets. But the final nail in the coffin was at the end when Tom, played by Anders Holm, has realized that he wants to put his womanizing ways to rest to be with Lucy. At first, she’s getting into what he’s saying to her like sarcasm. But then she goes on and on with it and I’m thinking that she actually means it. Yeah, these two shared some decent chemistry over the course of the film. Getting together would have been predictable, but they were well-written enough to make it passable. But NO, she’s joking with him. Kind of a cunt move, to raise his hopes like that and shoot him down. Then George comes along, threatens him, acts like he can do the same thing, acting like he’s kidding… I was about to lose my fucking mind. Lucy was so likable, and now revealed to be a total bitch, I lost all respect for her. While you feel good for Tom, who seems to commit to wanting to find something more meaningful in his life, you can’t feel good for Lucy because she was actually pretty cruel to Tom.
I want to go on record to say that I have no problems with Brie. I’ve seen her on MAD MEN and thought she could play dramatic roles very well. I don’t watch TV show COMMUNITY, but I’ve seen enough to know that she’s hilarious. Here’s my problem: her films. Granted, I’ve only seen this movie and GET HARD, in which she played a character that was slutty, not funny, and uninteresting. If you were to tell me that Brie can act, I would believe you. She brings a level of energy and charm to make up for the bad writing on her character, but this just isn’t the showcase for her talent. Maybe I should watch COMMUNITY and see her at her peak. Despite not liking her character though, SHE herself was a load of fun.
But as much as I sort of like Brie, the real saving grace of the movie is ANYTHING with Mann. Oh my god, why am I not a bigger fan of this woman??? Oh yeah, because she isn’t always in good movies (VACATION, THE OTHER WOMAN, THIS IS 40). But she’s always on my radar. Whenever I see her name stamped on something, I want to see her in it. Mann’s performance as Meg is so real, so honest, it’s a crying shame that the most endearing part of the movie is toward the beginning with her baby-talking to a baby that she doesn’t want a baby, even though it’s obvious she wants one… and then admits that she wants one at the end of the scene. It’s funny, it’s heartwarming, it’s a credit to the actress’ talent. I do have to admit though that the reveal of her pregnancy to her lover, Ken, played by Jake Lacy, is a pretty unwarranted scene of cruelty to him. Thank god it’s made up for later on.
While I want to say that this was a bad film, in the ocean of bad films I’ve seen in the last couple months, I can’t say this is up there with the worst. In fact, there are SOME good elements, like Brie and definitely Mann. But when all is said and done, the movie is about Alice, who is droll and maddeningly idiotic, and whenever she’s on screen, the migraine-inducing Robin is right there with her, preventing full enjoyment of the film.
My honest rating: a weak 3/5