Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Review: How To Be Single

World of Blackout Film Review

How To Be Single Poster

How To Be Single
Cert: 15 / 110 mins / Dir. Christian Ditter / Trailer
WoB Rating: 3/7

Whilst being carpet-bombed with products and services for GIRL-THINGS™ for 27 minutes prior to the film, I watched the trailer for The Choice, the upcoming movie based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name. As the promo-reel served not so much as an enticement for the film, but basically the entire thing in a truncated 3-minute form, I found myself thinking "hang on, this looks remarkably like the last trailer for a Nicholas Sparks adaptation I saw. And the one before that. And the one before…" At that moment I realised pretty much exactly how tonight's target-demographic feels when they sit through a trailer for a superhero movie. Just as I wasn't buying the clichéd horseshit about sanding down boats and going for long walks with dogs under emotionally turbulent skies etc, these fine cinemagoers around me don't think "Hey, I like the way they've adapted Iron Man's armour for the new movie; it really evokes the silver-age without being too retro!". Seriously ladies, I can tune out the odd TV and billboard advert that I know isn't aimed at me, but after being force-fed for half an hour the bullshit you're exposed to constantly? I genuinely have no idea how you manage to live in this world full-time. I salute you.

Which is more than Warner Brothers are doing in their cinematic interpretation of How To Be Single, a film which is every bit as patronising and methodical as you'd expect (and, I suspect, as was intended). Recycled chick-flick tropes fill the gaps left by the borderline-incoherent storytelling and erratic editing. Nowhere near as provocative or hedonistic as it'd like to think it is, but thoroughly unable to commit to being contemplative (or even mawkish), either.

At its best, How To Be Single is faintly amusing, if facile and self-indulgent. At its worst, the film is like being waterboarded with Lambrini, your gurgled screams drowned out by a Cosmopolitan-compiled playlist. That the script goes so far as to dismissively reference both Bridget Jones and Sex & The City shows just how far above its station the film's ideas are. The cast give good value for money as far as they're able, but they're hobbled by a format which objectifies and belittles them far more than the society it's cocking a snook at. The Insecure one, the Mumsy one, the Needy one and the Fat one*1. You can go out and party as much as you like, girls! As long as you conform while you're doing it. Well played, Warner Brothers, well played.

Oh, and take a good look at that poster. It's the only time you'll see those four actresses in the same room. I'd initially wondered why the IMDB page for the film lists Alison Brie far, far apart from the other stars (in the Rest of cast listed alphabetically section), especially as it's apparently in 'credits-order'. This is because while Brie's character and Dakota Johnson's character share a mutual friend, Alison's story-thread has not-fuck-nothing to do with the rest of the film. It feels like some side-anecdote which the movie keeps forgetting to tell or wasn't edited out properly.
Bizarre, unfocused and every bit as slapdash as the rest of the production...

"Maybe we're been making all the wrong moves? Maybe we've been focusing on the wrong stuff and now it's too late..?" says Johnson's Alice in a third-act moment of realisation.

I imagine the editing-team remarked much the same thing, just before they handed in their final cut of the film…

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Being patronised by film studios suggesting your love-life (or lack thereof) is somehow not dramatic enough.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
It's not really designed for that format, to be fair.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Well I didn't utterly despise the film, despite its best efforts, so no.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
I should hope not.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
A little bit.
I mean, probably not a lot.
But yes

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: Rebel Wilson is due to appear in the upcoming Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie alongside Celia 'Bravo 5' Imrie and Gwendoline 'Phasma' Christie.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 I like Rebel Wilson. I want to like her more, I really do. But her ongoing choice of roles is frankly atrocious.
Take a long look in the mirror, Rebel. Or just watch Grimsby. Either/or.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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