When I saw the trailers for “How To Be Single,” I had one thought: here comes another raunchy rom-com where it ends with the girl finally finding her man. So I grudgingly attended the local screening and what I found was, surprisingly, not that kind of movie.
Instead “How To Be Single” and its single protagonists Alice(Dakota Johnson), Robin(Rebel Wilson), Lucy(Alison Brie) and Meg(Leslie Mann) dive into singleness not as the plight of woman, but of woman finding herself. Set against the backdrop of the most expensive place to be alone in, New York City, Alice breaks up with her college boyfriend of four years to “find herself” and pairs up with new co-worker Robin for a life of debauchery and 40 hour work weeks. This debauchery is surprisingly not debaucherous, and is served more through innuendo than visuals, and is a welcome relief to the raunchfests we are normally treated to in any type of comedy film of the current day. Meg, Alice’s sister, spends her life delivering babies and decidedly not wanting one for herself, until a serious conversation with a newborn changes her mind. These three women and their stories are intertwined, although Robin serves as more comedic relief to the sisters. Lucy, the type A set on finding the statistically perfect man, sets up shop in a bar below her apartment, and is a side story only tenuously held to the main plot line by a mutual male connection.
For a pre-Valentine’s Day release, “How To Be Single” wanted to both make us laugh at and care for its characters as they navigate the dangerous waters of love. For the most part, it manages to do both. Rebel Wilson and her brand of bawdy physical humor pays off each time she is on screen as professional party animal Robin, and Dakota Johnson makes us care far more about the wide-eyed and newly independent Alice than she ever made us care for her “Fifty Shades of Grey” character. The male co-stars in Jake Lacy, Damon Wayans Jr. and Anders Holm all provide interesting foils to the women, and while only half of our female characters end the film in a relationship, it doesn’t make the emotional payoff any less.
In fact, when Alice fully embraces her independent life, this is where the emotional payoff comes in. She finds value in self-realization, self-confidence, and finds a romance with life itself, something more of us needs to find infinite value in.
“How To Be Single” is rated PG-13.