Film Review: How to be Single (15)
Looking for love, companionship or a welcoming port in a carnal storm couldn't be simpler in a 24-hour digital age of competing apps and online dating services.
You no longer have to practice chat-up lines or reject potential suitors face to face.
A casual swipe of a touchscreen relegates unsuitable matches to the scrapheap while an array of winks, woofs, whistles and growls alerts the lucky few to your piqued interest.
Based on the book of the same name by Liz Tucillo, Christian Ditter’s raucous comedy drama follows a group of hapless and hopeless romantics in New York City as they stumble between one-night stands, missed opportunities and chance liaisons.
It’s a glossy and sporadically hilarious portrait of sleeping around in the city that never sleeps, populated by attractive and wealthy people who spend the best part of two hours vacillating about affairs of the heart when common sense dictates they would be inundated with offers.
Perky heroine Alice (Dakota Johnson) meets her boyfriend Josh (Nicholas Braun) at college, but worries that the relationship has curtailed her journey of self-discovery.
“We need to know what it’s like to be single... at least once,” she tells her heartbroken beau, enforcing their temporary separation by moving to the Big Apple, where she crashes with her sister Meg (Leslie Mann), a pediatric doctor immune to the charms of gurgling toddlers.
Alice lands a plum job as a paralegal at a top firm, where she is befriended by spirited fellow employee Robin (Rebel Wilson).
The gal pals join forces in their pursuit of handsome bed partners, snagging bar man Tom (Anders Holm) and widower David (Damon Wayans Jr), who is fiercely protective of his young daughter Phoebe (Zani Jones Mbayise).
Meanwhile Meg is caught off-guard a charming younger suitor, Ken (Jake Lacy), and commitment-phobe Tom develops an infuriating crush on one of his customers, Lucy (Alison Brie).
How To Be Single stomps over similar ground to the 2009 romcom He’s Just Not That Into You, also based on a book by Tucillo, and is peppered with the usual array of heartbreaks and gushing declarations, underscored by a toe-tapping soundtrack of Taylor Swift, Guns N’ Roses and Avicii.
Johnson is a likeable, if slightly bland, dreamer, not too far removed from her little girl lost in Fifty Shades Of Grey, while Wilson injects madcap comic energy including various ad-libs that elicit the occasional belly laugh. Her potty-mouthed riffs in a sauna scene are a particular treat.
Ditter skips merrily back and forth between the different characters, drizzling closing scenes with emotional syrup, so even the unlucky in love are ridiculously fortunate in life.
Luck be a sex-crazed single lady.
HOW TO BE SINGLE (15, 110 mins) Comedy/Drama/Romance. Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie, Leslie Mann, Anders Holm, Jake Lacy, Damon Wayans Jr, Nicholas Braun, Jason Mantzoukas, Zani Jones Mbayise, Vanessa Rubio. Director: Christian Ditter. Released: February 19 (UK & Ireland)