How to Be Single Review
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February is a time for hearts and flowers and chocolates and sappy chick flicks. But while the hopeless romantics can go out to see The Choice, single girls can find some comfort in their own comedy, How to Be Single—or at least that’s what the filmmakers would like you to believe.

How to Be Single follows four single women—and a few men—as they navigate life and love in New York City. Alice (Dakota Johnson) is staying with her older sister, Meg (Leslie Mann), after deciding to take a break from her college boyfriend, Josh (Nicholas Braun). Together with her new best friend, party girl Robin (Rebel Wilson), Alice hangs out at the same bar as Lucy (Alison Brie), who spends her days trolling dating sites for a potential husband. And through several months of dream dates and lonely nights, they all learn more about what’s important in life and in their relationships.

The movie may be called How to Be Single—and, for that reason, it may seem to promise to celebrate independent women who are able to be happy and fulfilled without being in a relationship—but the characters actually spend a whole lot of time in a desperate attempt not to be single. It takes Alice what appears to be a week to decide that she’s had enough of her new single life, and she spends the rest of the film either moping about missed opportunities or obsessing over her various relationships. Career girl Meg has apparently just been covering up her overwhelming need to start a family. And, somewhere—off in a loosely-connected storyline—Lucy is an absolute mess, going so far as to write a program that will find her ideal matches on various dating websites. Even happy-go-lucky Robin is most likely just hiding her own insecurities—or maybe she’s just crazy.

So while the film may originally seem to be a kind of anti-rom-com for single girls, it’s really just a collection of typical rom-coms wrapped up in one deceptive and rather messy package. The stories are tangled and unbalanced, with storylines fading away for large portions of the movie, and none of the characters are really as strong and content and self-reliant as advertised. And that makes this even more frustrating than the usual chick flick—because while it’s often easy to handle the fluffy clichés of a blatantly ridiculous romantic comedy, those same clichés are harder to stomach when they come disguised as an empowering comedy for independent women. Sure, not every character ends up happily attached in the end, but many do—and the other poor schmucks are left to find their own way to (gasp!) unzip their own garments.

To be fair, How to Be Single does have some funny moments. But if you’re looking for a smart comedy for single girls, this isn’t it. In fact, if you take your single girl friends to see it, they could very well end up feeling depressed and desperate.

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