ADAM GRAHAM

Review: ‘How to Be Single’ follows familiar blueprint

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

“How to Be Single” wants to be one of those sassy, anti-romantic comedy rom-coms that modernizes itself by bucking the trends of the genre.

It doesn’t quite achieve its goal, adhering to formula for most of its running time before making a few late-inning swerves. The film has some fun along the way, but it is more traditional than it would like to think it is.

Dakota Johnson is Alice, who breaks up with her long-term boyfriend to find out what it’s like to be single in New York before settling down for good. She navigates the rocky waters of single life, along with her sister, Meg (Leslie Mann), her boisterous friend, Robin (Rebel Wilson, wearing her Rebel Wilson shtick thin) and the desperate-to-be-committed Lucy (Alison Brie, her storyline feeling like a plot afterthought).

The four of them represent different signposts on the single spectrum; Robin is a bullish loudmouth who craves drugs and random hook-ups, while Lucy reads wedding magazines at the bar and has spreadsheets devoted to finding the right guy.

The men in their lives include bar owner Tom (“Workaholics’ ” Anders Holm), who avoids commitment like germs, and David (Damon Wayans Jr.), a single father still coming to grips with the death of his wife.

“How to Be Single” sees itself as a new-school “Sex and the City,” and even calls out the “SATC” gang for bowing to conventional norms. But its message of empowerment is dampened when Meg, who is self-sufficient and doesn’t want children, reveals herself secretly craving a baby and a man. That’s not “How to Be Single,” that’s just another way to spin the same old story.

agraham@detroitnews.com

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‘How to Be Single’

GRADE: C+

Rated R for sexual content and strong language throughout

Running time: 109 minutes