HOW TO BE SINGLE (2016)
An ensemble cast of charming white twenty somethings that tries to do a bit too much and ends up doing too little.
An attempt of exploring the time between relationships when self discovery and self definition is supposed to happen, but it ends up feeling like a string of character arcs that while charming at times, are a veneer that never really dig into the the issues.
Every character is standing in their own way, but in such a self evident way that it comes off a bit ludicrous and “gee whiz poor me”. There’s little character backstory or development so while time passes in the film world and things change, the change seems more circumstantial than personal to the characters.
The cast is charming which I think makes it work, with a few legitimate chuckles and lot of improv-banter that feels familiar to the point of stale.
While it attempts to highlight some of the difficulties and complexities of modern dating, everything is a bit too surreal and studio-driven to have any of the comments land or be taken seriously.
It has the vibe of a chopped and diced production, with scattered scenes and loosely overlapping character arcs where at times it’s unclear if they’re all friends even though they’re at the same party.
It’s also not great I imagine for there to be two writing teams credited, with one of them being the producer.
On plot: the passing of time was very poorly handled. It’s such a crucial element to relationships and break ups that to have it clumsily addressed (we know it went from summer to winter then to spring, I suppose) and aside from one “3 months later” title card we’re given very little.
If you’re inviting an ex of 4 years to your Christmas party with a new girlfriend you moved in with within 6 months everyone in the equation is a sociopath.
As the above example points out there were some moments that felt a bit too Hollywood and the suspension of disbelief for what should be a very relatable experience didn’t hold up. I more grounded telling with more nuanced and dynamic characters was needed for buy in and would have heightened the comedy.
FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL does a great job of taking you through the relationship, and break up and getting into the absurd realities of what loneliness feels like. HOW TO BE SINGLE is too heavy handed and plot driven to resonate in the same way – comedically or emotionally.
Give us real situations and real characters because a fun movie can only be so fun if you fee like you’re watching a shell of a person rather than whiny shallow archetypes.