Entertainment

Not much new in “How To Be Single”

Dakota Johnson plays Alice, who is trying to find herself, and Rebel Wilson plays party-girl Robin in the romantic comedy, “How To Be Single,” set in New York City.
Dakota Johnson plays Alice, who is trying to find herself, and Rebel Wilson plays party-girl Robin in the romantic comedy, “How To Be Single,” set in New York City.

What it’s about

Same old song, just in time for Valentine’s Day: Four single ladies look for love in New York City in “How to Be Single.”

This romantic comedy is an ordinary, not that captivating, retread, yet there is some charm that seeps through, particularly in the second act.

The women fit certain types, of course. Alice (Dakota Johnson) takes a break from a long college relationship to find herself in the real world.

Her sister Meg (Leslie Mann) is a workaholic ob-gyn with no time for guys. But succumbs to the biological clock ticking.

Lucy (Alison Brie) is a tightly wound Type A who has a formula for finding Mr. Right but is too intense for anyone to get too close.

Rebel Wilson plays the same character in every rom-com she’s cast in — this time it’s Robin, a raunchy party girl with no filter.

The stud muffin hook-ups include Jake Lacy as the doctor’s younger paramour, Damon Wayans Jr. as a widower with a young daughter, a bartender-ladies man Anders Holm, SNL’s Colin Jost as a preppy cad and Nicholas Braun as Alice’s old college beau Josh.

After too many wrong-guy encounters, the lonely hearts wise up, learn to love themselves and embrace independence. In a page right out of the Book of Life, some find love while some still search.

Performances

Mann (“The Other Woman”) has a manic energy as the fast-talking doctor who would rather push people away than get involved.

Despite being her own worst enemy, the doctor attracts Ken, and he’s smitten. Jake Lacy is adorable, although he’s becoming a type — an earnest nice guy — after “Obvious Child,” “Love the Coopers” and “Carol.” Mix it up, dude.

Johnson (“50 Shades of Grey”), who seems to have little personality despite her lineage, projects sweetness but is often rather bland.

Brie’s character is so off-putting do we care about her obsessive quest?

After the two “Pitch Perfect” movies, Wilson is fast becoming a caricature. And that’s a shame. She, too, needs to break out of that overworked rut.

What works

NYC looks gorgeous, although their cute living spaces are mere fantasy. Nobody working at their jobs could afford their cozy-chic places — except the doctor who works all the time.

What doesn’t work

Nothing sets this apart from any woman’s cable channel movie — and it had four writers. This attempt at yet another “Sex and the City” template feels forced in its first two-thirds. But the last third actually has some things to say.

“How To Be Single”

  • Director: Christian Ditter
  • Cast: Dakota Johnson, Leslie Mann, Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie, Jake Lacy, Anders Holm, Damon Wayans Jr., Colin Jost, Jason Mantzoukas and Nicholas Braun
  • Rated: R for sexual content and strong language throughout
  • Length: 110 minutes
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