Monday, February 15, 2016

Review: How To Be Single

Like Julia Roberts before her, Hollywood is grooming a new young star to flourish as a very likable and charming romantic comedy headliner.  That star is Dakota Johnson.  The daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson first made the leap to stardom in a daring performance last February with her starring role in Fifty Shades of Grey.  Since then she's adding some dramatic cred for her supporting role in Black Mass and in How To Be Single, a new rom-com from Director Christian Ditter, she proves she has an uncanny knack for being the cool, pretty, funny girl that can lead a film in this genre.

The plot of HTBS centers on Alice (Johnson), a young woman just graduating college and working in New York City as a legal assistant at a law firm.  She just decided to put her relationship with her college sweetheart on hold and is exploring being single in the big city with some advice from her sister Meg (Leslie Mann) and her alcoholic promiscuous co-worker Robin (annoying Rebel Wilson).  We see Alice move in and out of a variety of relationships and encounters while trying to find herself as a woman.  The story is somewhat serviceable but the film really shines with the chemistry between the key characters.

Wilson is OK here.  I really don't like her much as an actress and I find her vastly overrated, but she gets a few laughs and plays off of Johnson very well.  Dakota is so funny throughout and never comes across as being pretentious or full of herself.  She has a way of commenting on the crazy series of events that unfold in the film with a unique line delivery that is really authentic and hilarious.  I saw a lot of the same believable down-to-earth comedic talents in Fifty Shades.  I'm assuming she got a lot of her quick wit on-screen from Melanie and Don.  Mann is both sweet and funny in a motherly (in more ways than one) older-sister role.  Her relationship with a young eager receptionist (Jake Lacy - aka PLOP from The Office) seems really genuine and is fun to watch.

How To Be Single isn't a perfect movie and not anything Oscar-worthy of course, but it is very fun to watch and most of the stars work well together.  I thought Alison Brie (whom I normally like in Community) didn't fit into the story very well and her relationship with the always awesome Jason Mantzoukis (The League's Rafi) felt a bit forced.  The character of Tom the bartender (Anders Holm) was also a little overbearing and unbelievable.  That being said, I really had a good time watching this movie and recommend it to anyone looking for a bit of levity at the theater.  I definitely had more LOL moments than I thought I would going into it.  It's going to be fun to watch Johnson's career take off. 4 out of 5 JRs for the best movie of 2016 *chuckle* so far.

NOTE: A few days ago I recorded the 3rd Annual ArcAdemy Awards with Omar Latiri.   We had a lot of fun going over this year's nominations and picking our winners.  Let's just say there's a lot of mutual CAROL bashing involved.  Omar is producing the podcast this week and I'll make sure to post the link to the finished work later this week once it gets published.

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