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After four years of dating in college, Alice has broken up with nice-guy Josh (Nicholas Braun) in order to experience being alone for the first time in her life — an idea that seems born not from some cogent inner motivation, but from a hazy conception of solitude as an ideal time for doing those things about which she’s always dreamed.A less happy vision of being single is provided by Meg, a middle-aged obstetrician who likes to stridently lecture her younger sibling about the joy of putting professional ambition ahead of matrimonial dreams, but who — as revealed in a bit in which she fails to resist the charms of an adorable baby girl — secretly pines for a tyke of her own.While Lucy searches for a soulmate on “How to Be Single’s” periphery — a quest that leads her to a largely squandered Jason Mantzoukas — Alice flitters in and out of contact with Josh (who’s now dating a new woman) and briefly hooks up with both Tom and single dad David (Damon Wayans Jr.).
Robin’s maniacal thirst for revelry props up the film’s first third, and her eventual retreat into the background accounts for the fizzling energy of the later, more somber portions.
Instead, it situates its protagonist in bustling, rowdy New York, where she moves in with Meg, gets a job at a law firm and befriends wild-child receptionist Robin (Rebel Wilson), who introduces her to the metropolitan nightlife — which, for Robin, means staying out and getting drunk until dawn, and then sloppily falling into the waiting arms of whichever guy is most ready, willing and able.
Robin is the story’s de facto comedic relief, and thus devoid of the contrived character arcs with which the rest of the characters are saddled.
Alice’s and Robin’s paths soon cross with that of bartender Tom (Anders Holm), a brazen hit-it-and-quit-it bachelor who counsels Alice in the ways of casual sex and commitment avoidance (the key, he believes, is keeping no breakfast food in his fridge).
Tom also strikes up a friendship with Lucy (Alison Brie), a hyper-intense woman intent on using algorithms and Excel spreadsheets to immediately find, and settle down with, Mr. Like Alice, Robin, Meg, Tom and Josh, she’s a familiar type, albeit one conceived with scant detail — she appears to have no career other than reading stories to kids at local bookstores — and, because she has no connection to the rest of the film’s female players, little purpose to the primary action at hand.
Johnson’s blandly earnest performance contributes to the listless atmosphere, as does Ditter’s pedestrian direction, which is most notable for utilizing cutesy graphics for text conversations (a device that’s fast becoming its own cliche).