The once mighty rom-com genre, it’s fair to say, has been in a state of flux recently. The Sandra Bullock/Hugh Grant/Matthew McConaughey vehicles of yore seem like bizarre memories from a pre- tinder, cultural fever dream and the formula they’d laid out no longer seems to guarantee box office returns. Nowadays a rom-com is more likely to be a smaller, critical darling like Obvious Child or Results; movies at home in the arthouse.
How To Be Single is an attempt to forge a new path but also return the genre to its place at the multiplex. It has an enjoyable, glossy sheen to it, being an archetypal tale of a gal moving to the big city. It differentiates itself from your Grandad’s rom-coms by saying, up front, that this is about being single, not about finding ‘the one’. It may as well be called ‘How to be a Romantic Comedy in 2016’. In some sense it comes across as being just as daunted as its protagonist when navigating this new world.