Overview: Six people learn what it takes to be single in New York City. Warner Bros. Pictures; 2016; Rated R; 109 minutes.
Picture Perfect: How to Be Single offers one of the better attempts at visual humor from an American studio comedy in recent memory. We usually get films that excel at visual comedy from filmmakers like Edgar Wright and Wes Anderson, but relatively new director Christian Ditter succeeds at letting the visuals of the film tell the story and energize the film. You get a brief introduction of each of the characters involved in the ensuing drama through visual language instead of being informed about them via the kind of exposition more suited to a situation comedy pilot. The film utilizes various cinematic tools to enhance the comedy, instead of cutting back and forth between characters with funny lines, and a better and more memorable product comes out of it.
Sisterhood of Singles: All the actors feel perfectly comfortable in this movie. Dakota Johnson inhabits the role of the production’s central protagonist nicely; her range allows her to be awkward, jubilant, vulnerable, and powerful, while retaining a certain inherent charm throughout, and Leslie Mann, Rebel Wilson, and Alison Brie delight in supporting roles. The film deliberately focuses on the “time in-between relationships” held by the actresses respective characters, as one character from the film’s script puts it. But the movie still functions without time being explicitly devoted to the happy part of the relationship. It even improves the film, letting go of some unnecessary scenes in order to keep the film alive and moving.
Sex and the City: Perhaps what makes this relationship comedy such a treat is how honest it is. It’s a testament to how single life is okay, and how it enables you to find yourself and some happiness. While it admittedly becomes quite heavy-handed with its themes at the ending of the film, complete with a Grey’s Anatomy-esque voice-over montage, it’s heartwarming that the film embraces these truths. It doesn’t feel clichéd at all, because those over-fictionalized rom-com clichés would really go against the film’s stand on the single life. The girl doesn’t get the guy if he’s in a committed relationship with someone else and the guy doesn’t get the girl even if he finds it in himself to start a healthy relationship. It’s not exactly “feel-good,” but it is thematically fitting. That’s definitely going to dictate whether or not people embrace the film, but I for one will embrace it and its emotional sincerity.
Overall: How to Be Single is a lively and sincere comedy that makes me wish I had several seasons-worth of episodes to spend time with these characters.