There’s little to learn from this How To

Let’s get this straight; it’s no walk in the park to be single in New York City. It seems like everyone’s too busy for a relationship when you want one, and when you have one you just don’t want to make time for one. The Big Apple is all about the hustle and finding someone whose schedule works well with yours. Seems like that would leave plenty of people, right?  Maybe not… Alice, Robin, Meg, David and Tom are all single in the city and trying to find their way whether it be with or without love. Deciding if someone is worthy of a hook-up or a real connection is yet another battle New Yorkers face on a constant basis. With the direction of Christian Ditter, this film delves into the world of sleeping around in the City That Never Sleeps.

Now, I wouldn’t call this a Rom-Com so much as an anti-Rom-Com. It was released Valentine’s Day weekend and made for a good first date, or a film for the girl groups celebrating Singles Awareness Day. You think it’s a pretty small niche? No, 44% of the American adult population is actually single.  No hard feelings, guys.

how to be single - elevator

Image: Warner Bros.

The main character is that of Alice (Dakota Johnson), who spent the majority of her postpubescent life in a relationship. Johnson pulls off yet another one-dimensional role, not unlike her part as Ana in Fifty Shades of Grey. Alice is just a trifling chick who leaves her perfectly good boyfriend and perfectly nice relationship because she feels like she wants to know what its like to be alone. She proceeds to immediately sleep around and stay on her sisters’ couch. Rebel Wilson plays Robin, Alice’s new coworker and friend who loves to party. I think I had her as a roommate in Brooklyn once… this girl sleeps in her sequined party dress and somehow manages to make it work appropriate the next day.  I don’t know what it is about Rebel Wilson that makes me laugh so much, but I know it’s not her weight. This beautiful Australian girl hits punch lines with such subtlety and determination that it kills me every time. Unfortunately, she is much better than this role.

Some critics are saying this film is funny because it is real. Sure, you have those women in New York who accept that society doesn’t’t let you pursue your dreams once you have a baby, like Leslie Mann’s character, Meg. However, she then decides to have a baby by in vitro fertilization via sperm donor, which takes all the credit and validation away from the realness of the character. And, of course, you have that girl (Alison Brie as Lucy) in her pajamas at the bar because they want to steal the free Wi-Fi and are on ten different dating apps to “better her odds,” but that’s not the girl that gets married and lives happily ever after. However real this movie set out to be, it was dashed away in the writing. The men’s characters don’t fair much better. Anders Holm, Damon Wayans Jr. and Jason Mantzoukas were good guys for terrible parts.

Image: Warner Bros.

Image: Warner Bros.

So, what else to talk about? All aspects of the film were forgettable. I literally just watched it, and as I write, I can’t think of a single song on the soundtrack. The cinematography was nothing special. The sets, costumes, acting, and everything just middle rate at best. I feel like there was such an underutilization of the talent that I would be embarrassed. You know it has to be bad when a there was a theater full of people and hardly any laughter. Usually in this situation, there could be suggestions as to how one could salvage a film but I’m drawing a blank.

Coming from someone who had to learn how to be single in New York City, trust me, it is as easy as it looks. Finding someone that you casually run into all over town, not so easy; that aspect of the film is just silliness. It’s simple sleeping with a stranger and keeping them a stranger forever. If you’re bouncing into an ex-lover in NYC, succumb to fate, my friends. You don’t need to reach your drink limit to turn that into yet another hookup, because there are plenty of fish in the proverbial New York Sea. The best advice I got from this “How To” film was to always have a friend who can inconspicuously stuff a bottle of booze in her shirt, and cleavage can be currency at a bodega.