Tuesday, March 1, 2016

How To Be Single Review

How To Be Single Review
There is a certain set of norms when approaching any genre or sub-genre of movie. That includes chick flicks? What are "chick flicks" to you? In my opinion they are movies aimed at the female audience and they want them to feel good. They want to remind their target audience that love is out there, you can find it, you just need to say and do certain things. "Chick flicks" can be funny and they can also flush out your tears. But they all seem to say the same thing, that there is a man out there for every woman and when women find that man, they need to marry them and they will get their happily ever after.

Its a nice message and I certainly don't think its a wrong message. But I will also say that the world is changing. Some women still like the idea of finding a man, watching them get down on a knee and proposing, then having their dream wedding plus a happy life with children. Other women want marriage, but no children or other conventional needs. Then there are even some women who want to live entirely independent. I don't think any lifestyle is wrong and I think everyone, man or woman, deserves to find their personal happiness, no matter what that looks like. It just seems Hollywood has never agreed with any of those outlooks. In all movies, whether a "chick flick" or not, shows women always ending up with a man. No matter their radical views on love and marriage are, there is always a man that comes along, breaks that seal, and those women let love in. So are independent women wrong for being independent? It can sure seem like that sometimes watching movies. I like the idea that there is somebody out there for everyone, but what if a person doesn't need a significant other to be happy in this world? Why don't movies explore those types of people? Why is being alone and independent viewed as wrong?

"How To Be Single" is, for all intents and purposes, a movie for independent women. Its a movie that says its okay to be single. Its a movie that says find your happiness, no matter what that happiness is, and hold onto it. Its a movie that says find yourself before any other type of relationship. Its not a movie that is going to sell you on the typical "chick flick" cliches that have been choking the life out the genre for years. This is no Nicholas Sparks adaptation, and I can't tell you how refreshing it is to write that.

Because, let me tell you, the first half of "How To Be Single" leads you to believe that it was going to be "just another chick flick." In the beginning, Alice (Dakota Johnson) breaks up with her long-time college sweetheart, Josh (Nicholas Braun). She does this just to be single. She's graduating from college, she's going into the real world, and she can't remember the last time she wasn't in a relationship. She needs to know what it feels like to be single, she needs that last bit of freedom before becoming an "adult." So she moves to New York City, finds a job, makes friends with the wild Robin (Rebel Wilson). She makes lots of friends like a bartender named Tom (Anders Holm), a rich single father David (Damon Wayans Jr) and making time for her sister, Meg (Leslie Mann). The movie follows Alice's transition from always being in love, to being completely single. How the men she meets blend in and out of her life, all the while Josh returns in unexpected ways. There are subplots involving Tom's attraction to a bar regular named Lucy (Allison Brie) who wants to be married so bad it hurts, and also Meg's need to become pregnant. 

There are several moments in the movie where you think Alice will get back together with Josh and live happily ever after. There are several moments when you think she'll fall for David or Tom. But what I loved is that the movie egged you on, but then ended in a way you wouldn't expect. "How To Be Single" shattered the norms and cliches of the chick flick and that is why I think its worth seeing. The movie makes you think one outcome for each of these characters, then by the end, nobody is where they should be if this were a conventional chick flick. "How To Be Single" takes a more realistic approach to love and relationships for this modern age. It doesn't shoehorn any bubble-gum fluff that "chick flicks" usually do. I think audiences will be surprised by the direction this movie leads, and that is its strongest point.

I have to say that Rebel Wilson is just as funny as you'd expect her to be. She has all the best material, and all the best dialogue and she shines. She hits everything perfectly and I expected no less from her. I haven't been able to buy into anything Dakota Johnson has done so far, and "Fifty Shades of Grey" has left a bad, bad taste in my mouth. But, suffice it to say, she does okay here. She creates a good character here and she at least makes the audience buy into the story line. Leslie Mann is as good as always. As is Nicholas Braun and Allison Brie. Damon Wayans Jr, arguably has the most difficult material in the whole movie, a sad storyline you don't see coming, and he sells it with ease. The real discoveries here are Anders Holm, who puts some humanistic charm in a rather cliche character. Then there is Jake Lacey who plays Ken, a young guy who works with Alice and falls in love with Meg. Not knowing she is pregnant with a child who came from a sperm doner. Its a fantastically hilarious subplot and part of the reason it works is with the generous comedic work by Lacey.

Bottom line is "How To Be Single" plays by the rules, while also tearing them down. This is a "chick flick" for the modern age. This is a movie that appeals to every woman, everywhere, no matter what their personality or love views entail. This has got to be refreshing movie to see for all women, I simply can't see  how it couldn't be. The cast does everything they can to make sure this story matters, and they nail it. I think you'll be surprised by what "How To Be Single" has to offer, because it certainly surprised me.

FINAL GRADE: B+

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