How to Be Single: Fun, Energetic, and Relevant

February 17, 2016


A film depicting the single life of millennials was long overdue. We are constantly bombarded with articles that talk about the different ways our generation views love and enters into relationships. So of course, Hollywood jumped on it with How to Be Single. Luckily for them, a wonderful cast made this movie not only an extremely accurate depiction of modern love, but a hilarious one to boot. The cast includes recent comedy darling Rebel Wilson, Leslie Mann, without whom a film about love and life would be incomplete, and Dakota Johnson, fresh from her role in Fifty Shades of Grey.


The film opens with the narration about life and love that is typical of romantic comedies, but the content is somewhat different. Johnson’s character, Alice, talks about how we always tell our stories through the lens of relationships. Then the scenes cut to depict the cute college relationship that Alice was in, only to reveal that she leaves her boyfriend to “find herself.” I was apprehensive about this plot line at first, since it can easily be made trite.

Finding herself in this movie, however, included becoming best friends with freewheeling Rebel Wilson’s Robin and hooking up with a hot bartender. This is realistically what single girls of our generation get up to in the aftermath of a breakup, or at least wish they did, rather than going on a solo trip halfway across the world as some films such as Eat Pray Love would have you believe.

Although Rebel Wilson somewhat steals the show, as she has a right to since she is hilarious, the entire cast works wonderfully as an ensemble. Leslie Mann plays the main character’s older sister, a workaholic doctor who has no time for romance and hates babies. Of course, she ends up finding love and loving babies, but she plays the role in such a charming way that it doesn’t seem trite. She also has the rare gift of  being funny without being loud or physical in her comedy like Rebel Wilson, though both are funny in their own right. The chemistry between Mann and Dakota Johnson is very believable, and though they wouldn’t seem to be the obvious pair to cast as sisters because of their very different looks, it worked.

A particularly notable feature of the film is the soundtrack, which includes recent hits such as Taylor Swift’s “Welcome to New York” (a must since the film is set in New York City), Fifth Harmony’s “Worth It” , and Charli XCX’s “Superlove.” The music ties the film together with its spot-on timing.  The film was really enhanced by the soundtrack, which tied the whole film together thanks to its relevance.

In addition to the fun atmosphere created by the soundtrack, the movie was so funny that I have rarely heard such hysterical laughter from the audience. In one of the funniest scenes of the movie, Rebel Wilson throws herself onto two moving taxis to get them to stop for her friend who is in labor, then proceeds to squeeze herself through a tiny cab window and drag said pregnant friend through it. Moments like this are abundant and all equally entertaining.

Honorable mention goes to Nicholas Brown, who plays Alice’s nice-guy long-term college boyfriend. He plays perfectly the part of the jilted man who doesn’t understand why his girlfriend wants some time to herself, then decides to move on extremely quickly while still strangely trying to get back with his ex. He is the epitome of the “but I’m one of the nice guys” type that end up being just as bad as the bartender who sleeps with random women.

Let us not forget the leading lady, Dakota Johnson. Johnson’s innocent face is perfect for her role as the girl who has always been in a relationship and is relatively innocent.. But don’t be fooled by her doe-eyed looks, this girl is funny. Maybe not as seasoned a comedian as Wilson or Mann, it is her awkwardness that makes her genuinely chuckle-worthy. For example, after a night out, she comes back and struggles to unzip her dress by herself, flailing around in a pathetic way then falling onto the sofa. Most girls have been in a similar situation, which is what makes it so relatable. Johnson is the one that grounds the film and makes sure that the message of it, which is essentially that sometimes being alone is good, does not get lost in comedy.

Ultimately, this film is about being single in a world where things don’t always go the way you plan them. But as we see in this movie, that’s all right. It could easily have become a silly or ineffective girl-power film, but it really is something worth watching, whether you’re in a relationship or not, simply because it is hilarious. And because Rebel Wilson is at her comedic best.

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