Take a Drink: whenever a text message appears onscreen
Take a Drink: every time Alice sits on a fire escape
Take a Drink: for every numbered beer (you’ll understand)
Take a Drink: whenever anyone hooks up
Take a Drink: musical montage
Do a Shot: zipper problems
Do Two Shots: zipper solution
Do a Spit-take: for every spit-take
By: BabyRuth (Three Beers) –
Alice (Dakota Johnson) is fresh out of college and ready to begin her job as a paralegal in the big city. She dumps her long-term boyfriend (Nicholas Braun), or rather suggests “a break” so they both can experience being single before settling down.
Because those always go so well.
Alice quickly realizes she has no clue how to actually be single, especially in the fast-paced wonderland of New York City. She’s always been a serial monogamist. Fortunately, she makes an instant best friend on her first day of work who is more than happy to show her the ropes.
Don’t worry, it’s not this kind of showing her the ropes
Non-stop party girl Robin (Rebel Wilson) is loud, brash, and down for anything, or anyone, and takes Alice under her wing.
Lesson number one: Your career? Not important.
But after a no-strings hook-up with Tom (Anders Holm), the bartender at the neighborhood pub, Alice begins to wonder if she’s made a mistake in breaking it off with her ex.
Her sister Meg (Leslie Mann) begins to have regrets of her own. A successful obstetrician who put her career before family, Meg meets the one baby (out of the three thousand she’s delivered) so cute it single-handedly jumpstarts her own biological clock.
Cue the meet-cutes, hook-ups, break-ups, and make-ups!
At first glance, it seems like How to Be Single is going to be yet another all-out look-how-bawdy-girls-can-be raunchfest with an exhausting Rebel Wilson as Rebel Wilson at its core.
At second glance, it seems like How to Be Single is going to be yet another Garry Marshall-esque ensemble rom-com where everyone winds up happily coupled up with their predictable mates at the end, with an exhausting Rebel Wilson as Rebel Wilson at its core.
Thankfully, neither of these descriptions is fitting, with the exception of the Rebel Wilson part (though she is somewhat scaled back). Though there are a few instances of Sex and the City-type voice-over narration and a semi-groan-worthy holiday catch-up with the characters montage set to “Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas,” for the most part, How to Be Single is a fresh, smart, and often very funny (without resorting to gross-out gags or overly vulgar sex jokes) comedy (leave out the “rom” prefix) featuring a charming ensemble of talented players.
Really. Not only that, but there are also a few well-earned bits of heart.
Dakota Johnson is a true surprise. As Alice, she is an engaging and likable protagonist, handling the comedic moments and emotional ones with equal ease. (She even does a hilariously perfect impression of Rebel Wilson.) It’s enough to make a person forget all about 50 Shades of Grey, well, at least until the sequels come out.
Rebel Wilson’s shtick of deadpanning the most unexpected and outrageous lines is, of course, on full display here as unapologetic party girl Robin, who, yes, is yet another incarnation of Pitch Perfect’s Fat Amy. We’ve all seen it before and it would be nice to see Wilson in a different type of role as she is certainly capable, but she gets some pretty great zingers in (I have a feeling “dicksand” is going to become a common phrase as a result of this movie.)
Leslie Mann has also been stuck playing a variation of the same character for several years now, but she gets a few weighty scenes and gives a sincere and touching performance.
The men are well-cast and most are far more fleshed-out than we’re used to seeing in these types of movies, especially Damon Wayans Jr. (warning: he will make you cry) and Jake Lacy as a Meg’s adorkably sweet suitor.
I apologize for using the word “adorkably.”
He totally is though. (At least I didn’t say “totes”)
Alison Brie is reliably charming and funny, but her character could have been omitted from the movie and it would have had zero effect on the plot. She’s prominently featured alongside the three other women on the film’s poster, but I don’t recall her having a single exchange with any of them.
Brie: “Group selfie time ladies!”
Wilson: “I am so wild and free!”
Johnson: “I am a single, cool, New York City girl.”
Mann: “Hey, purple, WHO ARE YOU?”
Her character is shoehorned in, literally sitting on the sidelines (in this case, a stool at the neighborhood bar the characters frequent) away from the main action. And she seems to have wandered in from one of those aforementioned terrible ensemble rom-coms. She’s the stereotypical “online-dating fanatic,” who has profiles on numerous sites and uses algorithms to find her perfect match. Of course, all of these perfect matches are anything but. Brie’s existence in the film is all the more frustrating when she is finally allowed to display her comedic chops in a hilarious melt-down that gets better the longer it goes on, which leaves the audience wishing she was given more to do.
Minor nitpick here, but it’s something that stuck out to me enough to want to mention it. The quick and witty dialogue is smartly written and funny, but it often feels like all the characters have exactly the same sense of humor and know the perfect snappy comeback. It often seems like the jokes were written first and then assigned to whichever person happened to be in the scene.
I went into How to Be Single expecting little more than a few cheap laughs among some predictable plotlines. I walked out very pleasantly surprised. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Or rather, a movie by its trailer. This one is pretty damn good.