There’s something quite alluring about Dakota Johnson. She’s got that vulnerable, pretty, girl-next-door thing down to a tittle and Hollywood seems determined to exploit those cutesy charms for all they’re worth.
And, more power to them, I guess.
Here, she plays Alice in How To Be Single (HTBS), which – let’s not dress this up to be anything more than it actually is – is a sequence of fairly flacid set pieces following the antics of a bunch of twenty/thirty somethings, all of whom share one thing in common. For whatever their reasons, they are all currently single. Some are desperately trying not to be, some are revelling in their ‘mono’ status, whilst others are going out of their way to regain the solitary state of being that they’re convinced they’re being denied; ‘discovering themselves’ in the process.
Do we care?
Well, with the sort of plot predictability that you’d assume is surely a’comin’, you can take as read the bigger picture here without fear of missing anything of importance… Each character’s inevitable life lessons are indeed learned along their respective journeys of self discovery.
Instead, if we concentrate on the film’s micro picture – for that, if anywhere, is where HTBS at least partially works and where any nominal value can be found – with a handful of stand out scenes, some reasonable interplay between characters, and at least a small sprinkling of gags that don’t fall flat on their face, HTBS does have its moments.
In all seriousness, this kind of turgid, predictable nonsense can’t be easy to put together convincingly, so hats off to Director Christian Ditter who has somehow managed to bring enough buff and shine to affairs to at least keep it moderately engaging and distract sufficiently from the barrage of cliches and schmaltz that seem inescapable within this terrain.
With the likes of Rebel Wilson’s, larger-than-life (in more ways than one) wise-cracking character, Robin, the film at least tries to remain grounded, diffusing any tendencies towards over predictability through frequent crude humour, delivered in a no nonsense style.
The gags however are hit and miss to put it politely but that’s the least of the film’s problems if I tell you that HTBS has a worrying tendency at times to veer a little too close for comfort towards that whole slick and enormously insufferable, Sex In The City, thing. Now, that’s a particular barrel whose bottom needs no further scraping, thank you very much!
A contrived and unnecessary addition to the IMDB database it may well be, but to its credit, owing to a number of decent enough performances and probably on balance, just about sufficient laughter to carry it through, HTBS somehow lifts itself, bedraggled, out of the straight-to-DVD bargain bin at Woolworths (R.I.P), dusts itself down, and presents itself as an unremarkable yet fairly watchable, relatively inoffensive and always uninspiring couple of hours of your time on a wet and rainy Sunday afternoon.