'How To Be Single': Frothy but mediocre fare

Film: "How To Be Single"; Director: Christian Ditter; Cast: Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Leslie Mann, Damon Wayans Jr., Anders Holm, Nicholas Braun, Jake Lacy, Jason Mantzoukas and Colin Jost.

 Rating: **1/2 A chick-flick, far from mushy romance, "How To Be Single" is a frothy, fun and frolic film aimed to cheer singles this Valentine's Day. While the film reflects on the relationship status of the four protagonists, it sends a strong message that women's lives should not be defined by men or through relationships, whatsoever. The film is around four girls; Alice (Dakota Johnson), her sister Meg (Leslie Mann), Robin (Rebel Wilson) and Lucy (Allison Brie). Alice is a fresh graduate who, on a whim, decides to initiate a "temporary" break from her college boyfriend of four years, Josh (Nicholas Braun), in order to explore herself and singledom. More accurately, she decides to take up a job in New York as a paralegal executive and wants to reaffirm that she is actually someone, apart from being somebody's girlfriend. But, no sooner she does that, she regrets her decision. Her mirror-image sister, Meg (Leslie Mann), who is devoted to her job as an obstetrician and gynaecologist and has delivered over 3000 babies, is stridently single, until a meeting with a cute infant abruptly convinces her that she wants one of her own. Robin is Alice's office colleague, who takes it upon herself to introduce Alice to the single life, which means endless rounds of partying and one-night stands. They regularly drop into a pub run by Tom (Anders Holm), a charming guy who is so committed to non-commitment that he has designed his apartment in such a manner that will make women scoot after their one night stands. Lucy is one of Tom's clients, who utilises his venue for the free Wi-Fi it offers, so that she can operate the many dating apps to find her Mr. Right. On the performance front, every actor is bang on with their characters. Rebel Wilson gets the chops as the wild and crazy Robin. She lurches from one scene to another, appearing periodically to swing on a dance floor grotesquely and deliver some marginally offensive zinger or take a supposedly hilarious pratfall. The rest of the cast mostly playing single dimensional characters add chutzpah to their roles. But it is the men who outshine the women. The script, written by Abby Kohn, Marc Silvestein and Dana Fox is sort of a muddled mess. It is packed with many sitcom cliches, mixed with periodic girls-gone-wild babble along with their confused state of mind. Also, it short changes character for plot. This is very apparent in the awkwardly complicated relationship forged between Meg and a new entrant in Alice's office Ken, played by Jake Lacy. Nevertheless, the film tries to be something different and new, beyond the normal romance or dramatic comedy. On the technical front, the film is competently made with hardly any area standing out in particular. Overall, "How To Be Single" is mediocre fare, which you may watch when you have nothing better to do.