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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Movie Review - How to Be Single

How to Be Single (2016)
Starring Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Leslie Mann, Alison Brie, Anders Holm, Damon Wayans, Jr., Nicholas Braun, Jake Lacy, and Jason Mantzoukos
Directed by Christian Ditter
***This film is currently streaming via HBO Now/Go***

I came so very close to stopping How to Be Single at about the halfway point.  In retrospect, I should have followed through with that because it really was a tremendous waste of time, but for some odd reason, Dakota Johnson and Leslie Mann had me oddly engaged in what ended up being a bit of a trainwreck of a movie.  Considering that Leslie Mann landed in the top spot of the Worst Performances of 2014 for The Other Woman, color me surprised that she's one of the reasons I kept this one going, but in this ensemble piece, she shined brighter than many others -- including Rebel Wilson who landed in the top spot of the Worst Performances of 2015.  Unlike Mann, she doesn't redeem herself here.

Enough about year-old awards, though.  How to Be Single takes a look at a quartet of women and their struggles with living life without men.  Dakota Johnson is Alice, a recent college grad who decides to break up with her longterm boyfriend (Nicholas Braun) to explore her options, not because she doesn't love him but because he is the only person she's ever seriously dated.  A new job as a paralegal at a fancy New York law firm has Alice meeting Robin (Rebel Wilson), a rambunctious, carefree, balls-to-the-wall, rowdy single lady who takes the newly unchained, mousy, and subdued Alice out on the town to try and teach her the rules of how to be a single woman.  At night, Alice goes home to her sister Meg (Leslie Mann), an obstetrician who has reached a point in her life when having children seems important with her single status proving to initially be an obstacle.  And then there's Lucy (Alison Brie), a completely superfluous character who spends her days hanging out in a bar looking at dating websites trying to find her true love while womanizer bartender Tom (Anders Holm) begins to pine over her.

While there are moments that work comedically -- however sporadic those moments may be -- How to Be Single also attempts to be serious, particularly in its second half and this doesn't work at all in its favor.  Attempts at mining drama out of unimportant or under-explored issues in the film's second half prove laughable and weigh down the lackluster flick which already suffers from repetitive and uninspired comedic scenes in its first half.  Sure, Dakota Johnson is oddly engaging as the timid Alice who is trying to find herself in the hectic dating landscape of New York City.  Her moments with Leslie Mann as her sister are charming and Mann herself makes the most out of a somewhat underdeveloped/stereotypical character.  However, the two are not enough to save the film from coming close to being a disaster.

I've already mentioned that Alison Brie's character could've been excised from the film with no harm done.  That's no fault of Brie, but her Lucy is completely unnecessary.  And then there's Rebel Wilson who continues to play the same character here that she plays in every other movie.  There's no branching out for her and her shtick has already worn threadbare.  While she's certainly not the sole reason How to Be Single doesn't work, she plays a part in its failure.  Sure, it's not as bad as some recent chick comedy flicks -- the aforementioned The Other Woman or Bad Moms -- but it's not a whole lot better.

The RyMickey Rating: D+

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