Review by Ashley Marie Wells
New York City is full of lonely hearts seeking the right match, and what Alice, Robin, Lucy, Meg, Tom and David all have in common is the need to learn how to be single in a world filled with ever-evolving definitions of love.
While I am more than able to admit that I did watch, “He’s Just Not That Into You,” more times than necessary, and that I am often sucked into these kinds of flicks, I put full blame on some sort of sordid subliminal messaging. I laugh with the best of them and walk out of the theater with a jovial aura cascading around me lasting until lights out, and then I wake up in the middle of the night wondering, “What sorcery is this?” “How to Be Single,” is a prime example of such sorcery.
Alice (Dakota Johnson), a young college graduate who has been in a relationship for 4 years with Josh (Nicholas Braun) decides she needs to figure out who she is outside of a relationship. She needs to know what it is to be single, much to the dismay and bewilderment of Josh. They go their separate ways in the adult playground that is New York City. Working at her new job as a paralegal, Alice meets the forever-party girl Robin (Rebel Wilson) who takes Alice on a journey full of fun loving debauchery, showing her how to live it up as a single gal. Alice has her moment and then quickly becomes disenchanted with her situation and finds herself by herself after an assumed reconciliation with Josh goes awry. Alice takes it all in her lackadaisical stride.
Everyone’s definition of love and relationships is obscure. Alice’s older sister Meg (Leslie Mann), a fiercely independent career driven woman, realizes her desire for a child and decides to have one via sperm donor, and then combats a relationship with a younger man that professes his love for her. Then there is Tom (Anders Holm), a smooth talking single guru barman that does everything in his power to repel any form of commitment and his upstairs neighbor Lucy (Alison Brie) who is obsessed with finding the perfect mate.
Alice tells us in the beginning that this is not a story about relationships, and that women’s lives should not be defined by relationships, but in reality this is a story solely about relationships and should be more aptly titled, “How to Cope with Being Single.” Everyone is perfectly charming even when they are completely ridiculous. Dakota Johnson’s slides into the role of naïve soul searching young woman, with a dash of nerdy quirkiness perfectly. But I did have to shake my head when her character was so befuddled by basic life skills, often completely dependent upon her male partners. In fact, this film’s message is perplexing. “How to Be Single,” flaunts the independent woman archetype, and attempts to express the indefinability of love and relationships but fails to break the mold, or shatter clichés. In some sort of ‘smoke & mirrors’ way, the film tries to make you believe it’s different but it’s really just another movie trying to tell women (and men) what they should or should not do or be. A defining moment in the film pins down my feelings about this sort of film perfectly.
After Robin (Rebel Wilson) unceremoniously invites all 3 of Alice’s love interests to Alice’s rooftop birthday party, Alice tells Robin how it is, and discredits her single girl live it up lifestyle. Robin, not being one to shy away from confrontation, then tells Alice how it really is, how Alice is constantly falling into the “dicksand.” Dicksand, is essentially male-oriented quicksand, you fall into the dicksand when your whole life revolves around becoming who you think a man wants you to be. You’re a chameleon, willing yourself to change (often unknowingly), to adapt to any relationship situation and in the process lose your individual identity.
Own How to Be Single on Blu-ray or DVD on May 24 or Own It Early on Digital HD now!