HOW TO BE SINGLE opens with a voiceover about there being a right and wrong way to be single, which made me furrow my brow and go, "hrmmm." Moments later, we meet our protagonist, Alice (Dakota Johnson), gazing out of a cab heading into New York City as Taylor Swift's "Welcome to New York" plays. "HRRMMMM," I said again, a little louder this time. I wasn't feeling great about what I'd hoped to be a decent movie about being a single gal.
But then—it was a decent movie! I'm not sure what happened, but I stopped hating the movie within about 10 minutes, and then I liked it kind of a lot. The movie follows Alice after her breakup from her college boyfriend, learning to be on her own by doing lots of things that, hey, I liked doing after I broke up with my college boyfriend! Despite my best efforts, I related hard. Alice is even from Portland! That's where I live!
Johnson is a very likable leading lady, and her posse—featuring Rebel Wilson, Leslie Mann, and Alison Brie—is compelling me to write #squadgoals even though I really don't want to. Yes, the NYC foursome of pampered white ladies was a tired idea by the close of Sex and the City in 2004, but if you can overlook that, and also overlook some mashed-up, half-backward messages about finding love in spite of the movie's title, AND THEN add the charm/handsome faces of Damon Wayans Jr., Jake Lacy, and Jason Mantzoukas, How to Be Single works more than it doesn't.
Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if the filmmakers focus-grouped my approximate demographic of women and attached sensors to us to see what made our hearts, brains, and nether regions tingle, then checked what we hearted on Tumblr, and then crammed all that shit into one movie with a crowd-pleasing soundtrack. Is this a cheap grab at our base emotions? Yes. Is it effective? Abso-fucking-lutely.