How to be Single (15)
Running time 1hr 50mins
REBEL Wilson is too good for this. A talented comedy actress, the Australian funnywoman deserves roles that match her considerable abilities, not throwaway, sexist stuff.
The problems with How To Be Single are threefold. One, it masquerades as a feminist film when it’s far from it (why wouldn’t it – don’t you know it’s fashionable to be feminist?); two, it’s not very funny; and, three, it never satisfyingly answers the poser it sets up in its title. Covering typical rom-com territory, Fifty Shades of Grey’s Dakota Johnson is Alice, a young woman in a long-term relationship, who feels suffocated. Her relationship is getting in the way of her life, opportunities and ambitions: she decides to ‘temporarily’ ditch the dude to concentrate on achieving. New colleague and friend of her sister, the irreverent Robin (Wilson), convinces her that what she needs is to sleep with random men, and promptly takes her out on the pull. Meanwhile, Alice’s older sister, Meg (Leslie Mann), a midwife dedicated to her career and singledom, faces a crisis of her own when she finally wakes up to the fact that she wants a baby – but won’t admit to either wanting or needing a guy in the picture.
So far, so all about guys. Despite its protestations, this movie’s raison d’être seems to be to ‘prove’ that women’s lives revolve around men. Comprised of stereotype after stereotype when it comes to women characters, it gives in enthusiastically to the standard rom-com principles it purports to turn on their head.
Wilson is the ‘car crash’ confirmed single lady banging her way through New York, while Leslie Mann is the bitter and twisted older woman who eventually finds happiness submitting to society’s ‘ideals’, where woman settles down with man and baby. Alice, meanwhile, is the insipid, supposed point of identification for the female audience who, when she’s not pining for her ex, is craving some kind of male attachment.
You simply can’t imagine the same premise working with or for men – and this is the film’s litmus test. Someone should make this film, in actual fact, because it would be a lot better than the female version, and would actually be subversive.
How To Be Single gives life to yet another ‘chick flick’ that declares women’s lives to revolve around romantic love and boys. Directed by a man, Christian Ditter, and co-written by another man, Marc Silverstein (responsible, with his female writing partner Abby Kohn, for scripts such as the depressing He’s Just Not That Into You and the vomit-inducing Valentine’s Day), it may come as little surprise. But it is both saddening and maddening that the strides apparently made by the woman-centric (flawed) feminist vehicle Bridesmaids have had so little apparent impact five years on.
So what does How To Be Single teach us? That the best way to be single, for a woman, is to bide her time thinking about men before the next eligible bachelor comes along. How very progressive. And it’s not even funny.