Hollywood loves to mess with the heads of folks still playing the find-the-right-one game in life.
Such as releasing the latest in a long line of romantic comedies, How to Be Single, on Valentine’s Day weekend.
And they dig playing on the shoved-in-the-closet bad memories in us all, too.
Everybody squirmed some while swimming in the dating pool, correct? Even if you have somebody cherished at your side to take to see this kind of film, well, you both can laugh at how it used to be in the Before Photos. And if you’re still searching, you can go group style and really yuck it up at schmucks who have it worse than you.
That’s what the much-played trailers for this one made it look like, anyhow: A fast and loose piece of work with Rebel Wilson cracking over-the-top bawdy jokes as she usually does, Dakota Johnson looking uncomfortable with sexuality, egads, Leslie Mann acting slightly older and bossy, and Alison Brie strutting smartly and smug. Typecast much? The men? Who were they?
A funny thing happened as my dear wife Karen and I took in a Saturday matinée at the Regal Cinemas theater at the Syracuse mega shopping, dining and entertainment complex Destiny USA.
The 1 hour, 50-minute piece directed by Christian Ditter and written by Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein and Dana Fox started paddling upstream.
Sure, there were plenty of the expected tawdry jokes — especially out of the mouth of Wilson’s character Robin, the one-woman wrecking crew who stuck most closely to expectations but still managed to come away with her own surprises — and single-in-the-Big Apple hook-ups. But each of the four main women at the core of the surprisingly interesting story had soul, too, as they searched for a mate and perhaps stumbled upon the reasons behind why this singles game had been going the way it had so far.
Johnson is the star, and behind those green eyes and striking facial resemblance to both mom Melanie Griffith and dad Don Johnson lied potential for some interesting dramatic turns down the line far past that Fifty Shades start.
And the men had depth, too. Bar owner Tom, played by Anders Holm, was the top guy if only because he had ties to two of the women, physically to Johnson’s confused Alice and emotionally to Brie’s logical Lucy. Jake Lacy and Damon Wayans Jr. were equally formidable as younger man Ken, fearless as he faced Mann’s reluctant expectations, and widower David, confused wooing Alice while thinking he was protecting his young daughter.
It was pleasing to see them all working out their various levels of singlehood, not trying to lump it all under one stereotype.
What’s your favorite romantic comedy, and why? What’s most horrible first date story? What’s your best first date story?