How To Be Single (2016)

How To Be Single is the kind of movie I love to hate. A pseudo-intellectual thinkpiece disguised as a raucous sexual comedy. It doesn’t matter that all the main characters are women; the plot would’ve been just as dumb and irritating had it been an all-male cast trying desperately to figure out the meaning of life beyond a relationship. With every new one I see, I believe this more and more: Hollywood should either cease all comedy productions, now and for all time, or submit itself to a comedy support group to try and rediscover what it means to be funny. I cannot take another loose vagina joke. I really can’t.

Neither can I take much more of Rebel Wilson. This woman is a cult goddess. She tickles everyone’s funny bones… except mine. Maybe mine’s broken because someone big sat on it. But what is everybody laughing at? Her size? Her blonde hair? Her propped-up chest? The way she falls over all the time as if it’s her way of walking? Perhaps it’s her Australian accent? Everyone loves an Australian accent… except me. So maybe — and God forbid this — I am the problem!

No, it can’t be. I must believe I still have taste and morals, two virtues every Wilson character lacks in abundance. In How To Be Single, she plays a girl named Robin, who finally replaces Leslie Mann as the most obnoxious whiner in the universe.

Robin’s best friend is Alice (Dakota Johnson), a beautiful young girl who leaves her boyfriend of four years and becomes a paralegal at the same firm Robin works at. How Robin ever got hired, I’ll never know. I, for one, would love to peruse her resumé. I have a gut feeling it’s handwritten and possibly illegible. But that doesn’t matter. Robin is not above sleeping her way to the top. I don’t know if it’s a compliment or an underhanded insult that the male population would bed someone this annoying.

No matter. Alice is angled as the movie’s protagonist, and most of her angles are truly delightful, but her first few scenes inadvertently struck an unfriendly nerve with me, and for the rest of the movie I couldn’t help but see her in an unglamorous light — all her problems are caused by her, by that one, lonesome, miserable decision to leave her too-good-for-her boyfriend, Josh (Nicholas Braun), in search of personal discovery. Years later, when the two of them meet again in a café, Josh dictates, “I knew I loved you. I didn’t need some experiment to tell me that”. It’s the truest line of the movie.

Alice claims they were on a break, like Ross and Rachel — actually, scratch that. Robin made the same joke; now it’s tainted. During this “break” she sleeps with at least two other men, one of whom, Tom (Anders Holm), is a shameless sociopath who parades his erected goodies in front of his neighbours and carefully rigs his apartment to be The Morning After-free. Tom is in love with Lucy (Alison Brie), the girl who frequents his bar, and Lucy is a hopeless romantic who’s just plain hopeless. Also, she has no reason to be in the story. She sits outside the rest of the plot, dangling her legs off a ledge, charmlessly observing, waiting to break someone’s heart with her fickle idea of true love and marriage.

This is a tiresome plod of a movie, aching from the moment it begins. Its key problem, apart from Rebel Wilson, is its undivided belief that Alice does indeed discover herself by the end, like a hiker ploughing through a forest with a troupe of lumberjacks and later claiming she accomplished the feat all by herself. There is no message to take away here. No God-sent life lesson. It is what it is: a bunch of young adult ladies sleeping around, drinking their socks off, making a mess of a few diegetic years, living in a sitcom. Dakota Johnson is naturally alluring and starred in the disappointing 50 Shades Of Grey (2015). She deserves better than this.

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