The producers of How to be Single should apologize to the female audience it’s targeting.
For Valentine’s, the guys got Deadpool, which is a movie that made me feel like a little kid again—I left with that delusional feeling of wanting beat up bad guys. And the women get this multifarious turd.
Before I get to ahead of myself, I realize that deconstructing this movie is about as fair as curb-stomping a kindergartener, but this movie deserves it. Considering the cast, I had hope—naive though it may have been—that this movie would break free from the conventions. Instead, it felt like the producers fished out every clichéd Valentine’s Day script they could find, and decided to throw them all together into one narrative, like a childish arts-n-crafts collage. The result is exactly what you’d expect: separate factions of characters that may exist on screen together but rarely interact with each other.
I’m not really sure where to start. The whole thing is fucking chaos. Overall, the story lacks any particular direction—which it doesn’t have to have—but this isn’t an art house film, or one that’s attempting to show that life may not have a particular direction. This is a Valentine’s Day popcorn flick. Each story is about as consumable as the hard macaroni common with such grade school arts-n-crafts projects.
There’s a bartender (Anders Holm) who’s good with all the ladies—such originality! There’s a driven career woman (Leslie Mann) who cant feel complete until she’s got a baby renting out her uterus. There’s an uptight chick (Allison Brie) that’s devoted to the concept of online dating; she uses the bartender’s wifi—yes, the connection is as tenuous as that. And, there’s a young woman (Dakota Johnson) just hoping to find herself—as though the concept of the self is a material object that slipped between her couch cushions when she wasn’t looking.
Let’s start with the dollar-store existentialist played by Dakota Johnson, considering she’s the Elmer’s Glue holding together all the characters in the story. She needs to find out who she is, and so she takes a break from her relationship with Nicholas Braun’s character in order to fuck a randy. The randy in question is the bartender, and once she realizes how hollow it was, she tries to circle back to her old guy—am I supposed to empathize with this woman?
Furthermore, were supposed feel bad for her when her former boyfriend has moved on. Turns out he didn’t need to fuck someone else in order to know he was happy with her. But don’t worry; we get to hate him later on when he decides to come back to Johnson’s character in order to cheat on his current squeeze. I guess he does this because he’s a guy? This is only a snippet of the junior high drama packed into this film, and it’s all I could stomach talking about.
Onto broader things… All of these actors are actually talented and funny in other respective films. Nicholas Braun plays down home lanky white kid well in Freaks of Nature. Allison plays a great literal minded tight ass in Community. And, Ander’s Holm dominates the trope of the self-proclaimed ladies man in Workaholics. Because the producers knew the film had no story they cast people who were known already for the stereotype they’d be cast as. And as for Daman Wayans Jr’s character, he’s shoehorned into the movie for a total of approximately 10 minutes of screen time in order to introduce a useless sub-plot about his dead wife and being a single dad.
The audience is forced to accept that Dakota’s character dated Wayan’s: They run into each other on the streets of New York, then it cuts to a screen card that reads “Three months Later” and voila! They’re dating! Only they’re not, because a minute or two later, he breaks up with her—I shit you not. With a script like this I don’t know why they bothered to pay the actors and actresses. They should have just payed for the rights to their likeness and preformed a puppet show with cardboard cutouts. But if they had the film would suddenly become even more transparent than it already is.
In case you think I’m shitting on popcorn movies everywhere, I’m not. Sometimes I like to check my brain at the door, and there is nothing wrong with that. But How to be Single isn’t even competent enough to perform the task of escapism for its audience. People may pay money to see it, but they’re tricked into it by the marketing around the film. The trailer has every moderately funny joke in it, and the poster echoes the Sex in the City foursome, again despite any real friendship between them.
Let me make an analogy that might clear things up: Deadpool is a chimichanga. It isn’t good for you and it isn’t intended to be, it’s good old-fashioned fun. How to be Single sells itself like a chimichanga to female audiences when really it’s a brick wrapped in a tortilla and smothered in cheese. It looks good, but the moment you bite into it, you end up regretting it.