DVD Review: How to be Single (M) (USA, 2016)

Given the combined creative genius of writers (Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein, Dana Fox) who co-wrote this screenplay, one would have expected to strap themselves in for a solid, heart wrenching, feel good romp with How to be Single. However not all rom-coms are created equal and this would be sure fire winner, boosted by the growing star power of Leslie Mann (The Other Woman, Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin) and native comedienne Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect 1 & 2, Bridesmaids) seems to have fizzled amidst an insincerely executed mesh of confused sub-plots.

Based in New York the film follows four single ladies dealing with different situations/stages of life, Alice (Dakota Johnson) has requested a ‘break’ from her long term partner Josh (Nicholas Braun) to figure herself out. Robin (Rebel Wilson) is determined to live the single life forever, which involves a never ending cycle of of drunken debauchery. Meg (Leslie Mann), Alice’s older sister and obstetrician has had a lot of experience delivering babies but has yet to find someone to have one with and Lucy (Alison Brie) is a serial online dater and would be statistician who seems to have worked out the odds of finding a partner who ticks all her boxes.

One of the key components to a great film of this type is of course on-screen chemistry which unfortunately is lacking between most of the core relationships formed in the film save for the one between Meg and Ken (Jake Lacy), which could be put down to Leslie Mann’s ability to be completely hilarious in the most understated, charismatic way. The duo pull off the best scenes when it comes to physical comedy and their interactions seem believable and exude warmth. There is an attempt at something different with Tom (Anders Holm) and Lucy’s relationship which gives off He’s Just not that into You vibes without the happy ending. It’s a nice touch and an unlikely injection of realism in a usually over-fantasized genre.

Whilst the script is not bang on a majority of time (a massive red card needs to be handed out for all of the tired tailored humour written in for Wilson’s character). A few truly poignant moments make their way into the film that prove completely absorbing. Key highlights being Meg’s reluctantly affectionate interactions with a toddler in her care and Lucy’s explanation of her whittling down process of the eligible date worthy population in NYC, with the use of peanuts. There are also some really clever quips delivered throughout the film, big kudos earnt for the ‘we’re just on a break’ Season 3 Ross Geller reference from friends, which will surely resonate with the 90’s kids.

Unfortunately not a lot’s going on in terms of character development, in particular Robin’s past seems quite elusive and we find out she’s filthy rich near the end of the film but are not sure why or how. Alice the central character to the plot seems to get slightly older and wiser but there doesn’t seem to be a solid moral to the story (except that one can invent a contraption that unzips your dress for you using magnets and pulleys).

Following in the same multi dimensional, parallel chain of events that magically come together near the end influences drawn from films like Love Actually or New Years Eve all the key ingredients to complete that tried and tested formula are present and accounted for. However, at the end of the day when all the sweeping romantic gestures have been made and suspense met, the audience may feel like they’ve just gone through the motions and not quite found what they were looking for.

Review Score: TWO STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Special Features

Feature wise besides the usual scene selection there’s a small collection of ‘deleted scenes’ which aren’t very enticing but were reasonable to cut out as they would have added in extra tangents or completely changed the context of some characters. It’s obvious that this movie was a straight to DVD affair with little to no additional bonuses.

Special Features Review: ½ A STAR (OUT OF FIVE)

How to be Single will be available on DVD and Blu-ray from the 1st of June nationwide.

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