One thing you can say for How to Be Single: Its heart is in the right place. The execution may not be there, but at least it has good intentions.
Then again, you know what they say about the road to hell.
How to Be Single is anti-Valentine's Day programming to the utmost degree. While the coupled-out among us are swooning over candlelight, producers hope, an army of single women will come out in full force to cheer on heroines who reflect their relationship status.
And these characters try to do that. They try so hard to be relatable, to get across the message that women's lives should not be defined by men or coupledom. And that's so great! Especially after everything else Hollywood has thrown at my gender.
Still, the movie trips over itself getting there. The characters are weak, and the plot is all over the place. Characters are given weight for little reason and then dropped from the story. Perhaps most troubling, the main character walks around New York City without shoes on.
The movie's faults certainly don't derive from the cast, especially not from Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey), who is affable as Alice. She plays a recent college grad who breaks up with her boyfriend to experience singledom, only to regret it once she actually has it.
This would be fine, except for how utterly helpless she is without him. Alice is supposed to learn and grow, but she's basically a child with a college degree who can't seem to unzip a dress without the help of her trusty ex. (For real, girl: Stop buying dresses with back zippers. Problem solved. Also: programming your remote control? You're a millennial! Google it!)
By her side is her ne'er-do-well best friend, Robin (Pitch Perfect's Rebel Wilson), who teaches Alice the ways of not caring about common decency. So, essentially, it's Rebel Wilson playing the character Rebel Wilson is really good at playing.
Alice lives with her sister Meg (Leslie Mann), a career-focused ob/gyn who eschews relationships in favor of professional satisfaction - until, in the midst of holding a particularly sweet baby, she decides she must have motherhood now. This is a woman who delivers babies all day long, but this one, insanely cute child is apparently all Meg needs to abandon all her principles. Mann has fallen into a career rut of late, playing man-repelling women, even though she is charming and lovely. Meg does not help her cause, or Alice's, or the movie's.
Tangentially related to these three ladies, and not in a way that makes a great deal of sense, is Lucy (Allison Brie), a marriage-hungry gal who is on 10 dating apps just so she can up her chances of finding Mr. Right. Anders Holm is a ladies' man bartender who, for some reason unbeknownst to anyone, decides he's in love with Lucy.
It's all sort of a muddled mess, but it tries to be something different and new, beyond the normal rom-com. Its emphasis on the importance of female friendship is certainly admirable. But that doesn't make it any good.