Tuesday, March 22, 2016

How To Be Single (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

How to Be Single

Director Christian Ditter's slick, glib and hyperactive adaptation of Liz Trucillo's book "How to Be Single," seems, at first glance to be made for a short attention span, but has some thoughtful segments. In what is essentially a "Sex in the City" film, this is a slapstick romp through the digital date scene of New York City.

Actor Dakota Johnson is Alice, a paralegal who dumps her beau Josh (Nicholas Braun.) Moving in with her sister Meg (Leslie Mann), an obstetrician, Alice strikes up a friendship with the irreverent and uncouth Robin (Rebel Wilson).  Robin encourages Alice to be hedonistic and grab single life by the horns, so to speak. Reserved Alice tries her best but is frequently embarrassed by the belly-rolling Robin. Alice runs to her sister for comfort. She, as a doctor, puts up a stoic front in not wanting a relationship, but is clearly bothered when she thinks about babies, which of course, is every single day.

There is a second story-line involving an aloof bartender Tom (Anders Holm) and a girl (Alison Brie) using several dating sites, who half-seduces the bartender to get free wifi. Tom thinks he is a hottie but he feels merely lukewarm as he spends a great deal of energy pushing ladies away from him. This is a full time job.

The best segments come from Leslie Mann as she grows restless and wants to have a baby. There is one scene when Meg is forced to talk with a baby. The adorable baby stares with wonder, returning Meg's anxiety with a big eyed openness. The scene is directed with feeling and intent that achieves a real poignance.

Also affecting is the auxillary story of the single dad (Damon Wayans Jr.) doing his best to raise his daughter, given her mother's passing. This aspect combined with Meg's baby envy, produces some of the best scenes in the film.

For the most part though the film centers on the melancholic Alice and her pining for  Josh, a damp piece of toast. Rebel Wilson has a lively presence but the film doesn't have her do much aside from push her way around and dance crazily, which she has done in other films.

That said, this is the one film where Dakota Johnson  shows seriousness and authenticity, a positive step, away from her robotic outing in the laughable "Fifty Shades of Grey." While it is a pity "How to Be Single" doesn't go all the way in its mimicking of a Judd Apatow comedy, all of the running around makes for an amusing encounter. It is indeed a spring fling that will quickly leave you when the lights come on, but this dalliance is not without some charm.

Write Ian at ianfree1@yahoo.com

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