Here’s how I summarize the first 45 minutes or so of this film. You’re getting into the story. Trying to laugh at the funny parts, but really only laughing when Rebel Wilson is part of the scene because she’s hilarious. You’re following well, but haven’t fully bought in to the storyline. You’re waiting for her to come back so you can laugh again, because that’s mostly why you paid money to sit in a theater and watch a comedy movie.
The film plods along with intermittent and proportionally large laughs when Wilson is on screen, but then something strange happens. The movie actually starts to be enjoyable. More characters are introduced. The setups are actually paying off now. Dakota Johnson is actually doing things that are funny. We’ve learned all the characters and all the stories the filmmakers have tried to weave together, but now we’re starting to get invested.
How to Be Single is pretty self-explanatory. Johnson plays a girl who breaks up with her boyfriend of four years because she feels that she needs to learn more about herself alone. She meets Wilson, a wild spirit, who tries teaching her how to get the most out of her single life.
Johnson feels out of place comedically at times, but she is the main driving force of any emotion evoked by this film.
The events take place over the course of about a year or so. It recognizes that these things take time and never rushes through stages in a breakup and the self-discovery that comes along with independence.
It’s nothing crazy that we haven’t really seen before, but in some ways it is. It’s suprisingly not very predictable and its humor plays on self-awareness. Just get past the first act and it’s pretty much smooth sailing from then on out.
And guys should enjoy it too. The film never becomes too self-righteous or alienates the idea of relationships at all. What this movie does best is finding the balance between uninhibited humor and benevolence. It acts as a good intentioned allegory on loving yourself before being able to love someone else.
On another note, Wilson is flat out funny. She does her usual competent-slacker schtick here, and continues to help prove her case as the funniest woman in Hollywood right now.