Review: 'How to be Single' pleasing enough Valentine's Day diversion

The opening narration of “How to be Single,” a new rom dram -- romantic dramedy -- starring “50 Shades of Grey” star Dakota Johnson, informs us that it isn’t about relationships, it's about the times in between.

See Full Article

And so it goes that the main character is basically single for most of the movie, but in reality the film is about relationships and nothing more.

On the eve of graduation Ivy Leaguer Alice (Johnson) has “the talk” with her long time boyfriend Josh (Nicolas Braun). She’d like to spend some time apart and find herself before they make a lifelong commitment. “I can't wonder ‘what if,’” she says. “This is going to be great for both of us.” To learn what it means to be alone, she moves to New York, gets a job as a paralegal and kicks off the “Sex and the Sex” phase of her life with new workmate Robin (Rebel Wilson) as her guide.

“Where are you going?” asks Robin.

“Home,” says Alice.

“I never want to hear you say that again,” snorts Robin. “You're single.”

And so it begins.

At first, under the brazen Robin’s tutelage, Alice is an awkward flirt but soon embraces what her new friend calls a “sexual rumspringa” or rite of passage. She learns that drinks are a man’s “sexual currency” and just how long to wait before returning a text from a one night stand. From womanizing bartender Tom (Anders Holm) she discovers the trick to getting pick-ups out of the house the next day -- turn off the water so thirsty “hungover chicks have to leave to survive.”

It’s a steep learning curve that sees her have flings with the above-mentioned bartender -- “He’s sexual sorbet,” says Robin -- and single father David (Damon Wayans Jr.) as several other characters swirl around her. Her workaholic sister Meg (Leslie Mann) begins a May-December relationship with Ken (Jake Lacy) while upstairs neighbour Lucy (Alison Brie) searches Manhattan looking for Mr. Right.

“How to be Single” is a messy retelling of Liz Tuccillo’s novel of the same name. It’s part slapstick comedy, part heart-tugger, part coming-of-age. The kitchen sink approach isn’t as bad as it sounds because director Christian Ditter has taken pains to cast the right people in the right roles. Wilson provides over-the-top comic relief -- I don’t know if she has any range, but she’s very funny here -- the guys represent various stereotypes -- the playboy, the damaged single father, the puppy dog—and Mann makes the most of a role we’ve seen before, the workaholic who feels the ticking clock.

Dakota Johnson Rebel Wilson How To Be Single

It’s a nice, appealing ensemble but it’s Johnson who brings the charm. She has a natural way about her, like Greta Gerwig gone slightly Hollywood, that allows complex emotions bleed through a seemingly simple performance. She makes Alice compelling, delivering funny lines -- “I'll be alone forever but at least my dead body will be food for the cats" -- and sad with equal skill.

“How to be Single” doesn’t add much, other than entertainment value, to the genre. Its basic premise is blurred as everyone ends up with someone -- some romantically, some platonically, all hooked up -- following the film’s sombre realization that being alone is OK as long as you aren’t… I don’t know, lonely? As a statement on modern relationships it’s muddled -- "Why do we always tell our stories through relationships?" it asks, before doing just that -- but it does deliver enough laughs and romance to make it a pleasing enough Valentine's Day diversion.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Ron Howard takes helm of Han Solo 'Star Wars' film

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Ron Howard is taking command of the Han Solo "Star Wars" spinoff after the surprise departure of directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller. Lucasfilm announced their replacement director Thursday, two days after Lord and Miller left the project over creative differences. Source
  • Giant robot movies and TV shows that are better than ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    The Transformers may be robots in disguise, but there’s no hiding the fact that this franchise has morphed into a big pile of metallic dung. And it may have reached rock bottom with its latest outing, the just-released Transformers: The Last Knight. Source
  • Ron Howard steps in to direct Han Solo spinoff

    Entertainment CBC News
    Hollywood heavyweight Ron Howard has stepped in to helm the forthcoming Han Solo film, days after Lucasfilm cut loose original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller over "creative differences" on the anticipated Star Wars spinoff. Howard, an Oscar-winner for A Beautiful Mind and known for credits as wide-ranging as Cocoon, Apollo 13, The Da Vinci Code, Frost/Nixon and Rush, will start immediately, according to reports in industry publications Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. Source
  • Gene Simmons abandons bid to trademark 'rock on' hand gesture

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Rocker Gene Simmons has abandoned his application to trademark his signature “rock on” hand gesture. The Kiss frontman filed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office earlier in June to trademark the use of his “devil horns” hand gesture for “entertainment, namely, live performances by a musical artist; personal appearances by a musical artist. Source
  • Album review: Lorde's 'Melodrama' is 'lifeness' at its best

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    One of Lorde's favorite words to sing is "rush" - a flexible little noun that can describe a thrill, or a stress, or even the stress of feeling a thrill. Her new album, "Melodrama," has rushes to spare. Source
  • 'Leftovers' creator Damon Lindelof in talks to develop 'Watchmen' TV series

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    The Leftovers creator Damon Lindelof is reportedly in talks to develop a TV adaptation of the Watchmen. The producer is in negotiations with bosses at HBO to create a series based on the cult comic book series. Source
  • Newfoundland woman plans own funeral, gets celebrated band to re-do song for it

    Entertainment CTV News
    PETLEY, N.L. -- An 80-year-old woman who planned her own funeral has managed to convince a celebrated Newfoundland and Labrador band to re-record a song so it would be more appropriate for her eventual farewell. Source
  • Threats to wife of Trump-like 'Caesar' play director probed

    Entertainment CTV News
    Tina Benko, left, portrays Melania Trump and Gregg Henry, center left, portrays President Donald Trump in the role of Julius Caesar during a dress rehearsal of The Public Theater's Free Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar, in New York on May 21, 2017. Source
  • 'Bachelor in Paradise' dispute par for reality TV course

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- Modern reality television has been misbehaving since it was born. Putting aside the charmingly mild "Candid Camera" midcentury years, the reality TV era that began in the early 1990s with MTV's "Real World" has encompassed its share of questionable standards and tactics. Source
  • Appeals court reinstates Terrence Howard divorce judgement

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- A California appeals court on Wednesday reinstated Terrence Howard's divorce judgment involving his second wife after finding the actor was not coerced into signing it. The ruling could allow Michelle Ghent to claim some of Howard's lucrative earnings from the hit Fox television series "Empire. Source