New York City is full of lonely hearts seeking the right match, and what Alice, Robin, Lucy, Meg, Tom and David all have in common is the need to learn how to be single in a world filled with ever-evolving definitions of love.
Directed by Christian Ditter
Starring Rebel Wilson, Dakota Johnson, Alison Brie, Leslie Mann
Last year’s Sleeping With Other People was a surprise entry (for some) in our Top Ten movies of last year. Granted, it only reached #10, but nonetheless, this is in no small part to the fact that Alison Brie, quite possibly this generations’ Meg Ryan-in-waiting, had a starring role opposite Jason Sudekis. I’ve also been a long-time fan of Leslie Mann (This Is 40), so when this rolled up, despite it also featuring Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades) and Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect), I couldn’t not, really.
With its feet firmly planted in chick-flick territory, this story spends most of its running time trying to extol the virtues of what it means to be single (not just a clever title, then) from the perspective of white, middle-class women that clearly never needed a man in the first place. Odd then how they go to such lengths to both moan about their lot and rectify the situation with such ardent enthusiasm.
Handy for the gaggles of women in the audience who could either not convince their boyfriends/husbands etc to go and watch it with them, or they didn’t actually have one or the other to begin with. As a forty-something man sitting in the theatre on his own, I’m guessing that most of the rest of the audience must have assumed I was gay, or had watched Deadpool as many times as I could manage before having a pun-induced nervous breakdown.
Here, the primary focus is on Johnson’s character, Alice, a paralegal that has decided that because she has never been on her own before, despite being in a happy relationship with a good, honest, loyal man, that she wants to experience the flipside of this and so dumps the affable, clueless and apparently emotionally impotent boyfriend with little thought for his feelings of loss and confusion. Of course she has a right to live her life any way she chooses, and because of this freedom, she is almost odds on to makes some mistakes and subsequently regret her decision, before realising her mistake, only to find that it is too late to fix it. Silly girl. Silly, silly girl.
She is befriended by Rebel Wilson’s character, Robin, another single woman, who takes her under her wing and shows her what the city is really like when New York is your oyster. Throw in Alison Brie’s slightly scary character that wants nothing more than the man of her dreams and is happy to keep trying each one until she finds him and Leslie Mann’s time-clock Doctor, who recognises that the ability to reproduce waits for no woman, and whilst she doesn’t feel she wants a man at all, she really does want a baby.
All in all, there is something in at least one of these characters that most women will recognise in themselves, even if only partially, and they are able to admit it. As a group of women representing their race, viewed from the eyes of the opposite sex, there isn’t much to applaud and it should come as no great surprise that most of the film’s time is spent on the pursuit of personal gratification, both sexually and emotionally. Some of the group are more successful than the others but regardless, this still feels like an homage to Sex In The City, only not as roundly considered, nor as funny.
The men featured are two-dimensional for the most part with only really Damon Wayans coming out with any credibility, but even then, the performance of this recently widowed father of a young daughter is so woefully amplified for the benefit of entertainment, that it still feels like this particular chap is still being beaten over the head by the brightly coloured plastic chair of feminism, as opposed to the unvarnished wooden ones reserved for the rest of the male cast.
I spent a large portion of the running time wishing I could go to New York, as they seem to have such great bars and throw some excellent roof parties. Not once did I feel the nagging pull of the city due to its inhabitants, which if anything, did more to put me off my fledgling travel plans, seeing as they varied from aggravating to downright insipid on occasion.
In all, a nice postcard from the city that never sleeps at times, which if on point, has much more going for it than the people that live there. Don’t get me wrong, this is not just directed at the female characters, but the males ones too. Frankly, they all deserve one another and if we’re honest, if these people were a representative cross-section of the city, then it’s no great wonder they have so many relationship problems. Funny at times, certainly, but mostly in a ‘thank god that’s not me’ scenario. Hug your other-halves tightly ladies, because whilst they may not be perfect, you could easily end up like one the women featured here, whilst you’re looking for something better.