Shapeless ‘How to Be Single’ is Dreadfully Unfunny

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Average: 5 (1 vote) Oscarman rating: 1.5/5.0
Rating: 1.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Rebel Wilson’s raunchy and vulgar schtick is now way past its freshness date, but she’s the only one able to elicit any chuckles in this otherwise woebegone women-behaving-badly, anti-romantic comedy, “How to Be Single.”

While it’s somewhat refreshing to see women get the focus, it would be a lot better if it didn’t portray all of them as sex crazed drug addicted raging alcoholics. This movie desperately wants to be female-centered girlfriend comedy in the “Judd Apatow” mold, but has neither the heart nor the comedic touch to pull it off.

Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson
Dakota Johnson and Rebel Wilson in ‘How to Be Single’
Photo credit: New Line Cinema

Dakota Johnson is a shy, mousy and cat-loving recent college graduate who breaks up with her longtime boyfriend because she has to learn how to be single in New York City. Her sister, the usually reliable Leslie Mann, is a doctor who spends all day delivering babies but actually hates them until arbitrarily she doesn’t. Alison Brie plays the stereotypical woman looking for a perfect husband, obsessed with finding algorithms that will lead her to true love. And Rebel Wilson is the world’s worst receptionist at the law firm where Johnson is working as a legal aide.

While Rebel Wilson’s vulgar quips about both the male and female genitalia lack the freshness they once did, they still got a couple of chuckles out of me. She’s a big bouncing ball of energy that is about the only thing able to inject a pulse into this shapeless and hapless production. Even half forgotten mediocre films such as the similar Zac-Efron-horny-guys-in-New-York production “That Awkward Moment” begin to look like precise machines of comic timing compared to “How to Be Single.”

All four of these actresses are talented comedians, but they simply don’t have anything interesting or funny to do. There are admittedly a couple of brief flashes where the movie has a sense of humor about its own contrivances. Take, for example, where Johnson meets young developer (Damon Wayans Jr.) at a college mixer. On their first date he takes her to a vacant building covered in plastic, and then asks her to close her eyes. It only feels right that Johnson then asks him if he’s about to “Dexter” her.

Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Leslie Mann
Rebel Wilson, Dakota Johnson and Leslie Mann in ‘How to Be Single’
Photo credit: New Line Cinema

Leslie Mann is usually able to get laughs out of just about anything, but she strikes out almost completely here with an underwritten role. Alison Brie is similarly wasted playing the kind of “Type A” personality that only occurs in rom-coms from lazy screenwriters – which leaves Dakota Johnson and Rebel Wilson to do all the heavy lifting. Johnson can be appealing, but her predicaments here are almost entirely of her own making, and Wilson gets the most out of a onenote party girl, but she’s pretty much a shallow flash in a pan without adding any depth to the character.

This film doesn’t work as a romance, and it mostly doesn’t work as a raunchy girlfriend comedy either. If you take a Valentine date to this movie you might learn firsthand “How To Be Single.”

”How to Be Single” is in theaters everywhere. Featuring Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Leslie Mann, Alison Brie, Damon Wayans Jr., Anders Holm, Colin Jost and Jake Lacy. Written by Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein and Dana Fox. Directed by Christian Ditter. Rated R” contributor Spike Walters


© 2016 Spike Walters,

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