Last week I went to the European Premier of the new female led comedy How To Be Single. There was a pink carpet and instead of popcorn they gave us weird tasting pink chocolate (the chocolate wasn’t pink, just the wrapper). I don’t normally do in depth film reviews but I have a lot of things on my mind about this film.
Before we really get into it I want to say that I really liked How To Be Single (HTBS). I was laughing so hard during it and I love all the actresses it in – Rebel Wilson, Dakota Johnson, Alison Brie and Leslie Mann – I think they’re all wonderful and so funny. I’m all for a female led comedy – Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect are some of my favourite films and although this isn’t a blog about representation I will say that we need more comedies led by black women coming out of Hollywood please.
HTBS is about 4 single ladies in New York all finding their own ways to be single. I really like how it doesn’t treat being single as a stage in between relationships but as a state of being in its own right. And I think it’s great how they show different ways of being single, that there’s no right way to do it. Although I will say it’s not really a film about “how to be single” it’s more a film of self-discovery.
Okay, so we’ve established that I liked the film. I definitely want to see it again so I can remember some of the quotes and use them in my actual real single life. But here’s the catch – it’s not a good film. And there are several reasons for this. Let’s talk about them.
Alison Brie’s character is completely redundant
The character Lucy could have been cut entirely and it wouldn’t have changed the film at all. She is not part of the girl gang. She doesn’t become friends with any of them, she’s just chilling out in the sidelines with her own storyline. She doesn’t interact with any of the other characters except the character Tom and she’s basically used as a device for Tom’s character development. I did like the Lucy-Tom friendship though because I thought it was setting itself up to be a massive cliché and it wasn’t but her character was still pointless.
Does it even pass the Bechdel Test?
I am aware that passing the Bechdel Test doesn’t necessarily make a film “good” but you’d expect a comedy about being single with 4 female characters in it to pass with flying colours. It does pass (I think) but barely. When the girls aren’t talking about boys they’re talking about babies, sex, body hair, getting drunk etc… Wooo! Women! There’s obviously nothing wrong with talking about these things but we talk about other stuff too.
One dimensional characters
I know I said that all the characters have different ways of living that single life. At first I thought it was great that all the characters were so different but then I thought about it more and actually we’ve gone backwards 20 years because turns out they’ve just replicated the Sex and the City characters. For real.
Robin (Rebel Wilson) = Samantha, the one that sleeps around and doesn’t settle down.
Alice (Dakota Johnson) = Carrie, completely loses herself in relationships and can’t stay single.
Meg (Leslie Mann) = Miranda, career-obsessed independent woman who actually has a heart.
Lucy (Alison Brie) = Charlotte, desperate for a relationship, marriage and children.
WHERE IS THE LIE?!
Do they even go to work?
The characters Robin and Alice meet because they work at the same place but once they’ve met we never really see them go back to work again. When Alice has her becoming-herself-montage we never see her at work, did she quit? And when Robin and Alice fall out and don’t speak for a few weeks are we supposed to believe that either one of them or both of them stopped going to work!? The location where Alice’s apartment is in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (I felt so cool that I recognised the street) would be so expensive! She needs to work!
Being single is just a piss up
First of all, if you’re not British a “piss up” is basically a booze fest. HTBS portrays single life as just going clubbing and getting drunk ALL THE TIME. I don’t know about you but my single social life consists of brunch/lunch/dinner dates with friends, hanging out at someone’s house or the occasional outing to music/comedy gigs, cultural excursions or shopping. Most of the time I spend with my friends is sober and I didn’t really get that vibe from the film. But if you want to pre-drink before going out but you don’t actually want to drink alcohol you should watch this film. It will get you pumped. I felt so drunk and ready to go clubbing after watching it and I was completely sober.
Despite all my issues with HTBS I would recommend you watching it because it’s just a really funny film that you can switch off and enjoy. Once you switch back on you end up with blog posts like this but genuinely at the time I really enjoyed this film.
Have you seen it? Are you planning to go see it? What expectations do you have for female led comedies in 2016? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!