How to be Single follows four single women in New York, as they try and find love and – spoiler alert – along the way end up finding themselves. Newly single Alice (Dakota Johnson) moves to New York where she meets party girl Robin (Rebel Wilson) who decides to teach her how to be single, the gist of which is: go out, get drunk and sleep with whoever you want. Meanwhile Alice’s workaholic sister Meg (Leslie Mann) tries to reconcile her desire for a family with her chronic singledom. Finally there’s Lucy (Alison Brie), who is convinced that algorithms are the key to her finding her perfect man online.
There are quite a few things in How to be Single that just felt a bit odd: three of the four main characters know one another and their storylines interweave – the fourth, Alison Brie’s character, never has a scene with the three other women and yet seems to have been invited to the big climactic birthday party scene at the end. The soundtrack also felt weirdly out of date – at one point the ‘Harlem Shake’ was used to build up tension before two characters slept with one another.
As the main comedic element of the film, Robin’s jokes have about a 50% success rate: there are some legitimately funny moments but just as many fell flat. However, Rebel Wilson does bring most of the film’s energy, and in the film’s last act – in which she barely features – her presence is missed.
How to be Single has as many New York rom-com clichés as you’d expect: from the impossibly lovely apartments that the characters probably can’t afford, to the sweeping shots of the city that – gorgeous as they are – are indistinguishable from any film shot in New York from the last decade. But one refreshing and very welcome element of How to be Single is its lack of judgement of the characters for their sexual choices: Robin’s promiscuity is celebrated and at no point is there any slut-shaming. How to be Single is a film that, whilst not bringing anything particularly new to the table, still provides fun escapism: its a few hours of a beautiful, fantasy New York in which everyone is gorgeous and everything turns out ok.
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