"a riot which avoids a lot of the obvious romcom pitfalls, puts a fresh spin on the genre and should leave everybody with a smile on their face"

It feels like a long time since there has been a good romantic comedy - the genre has really taken a bashing in recent years, riddled with formulaic and predictable films so you are left expecting them all to be awful, so How to be Single is a breath of fresh air.

The rom-com features an ensemble cast headed up by Fifty Shades of Grey star Dakota Johnson as Alice, who goes on a break from her longtime college boyfriend Josh (Nicholas Braun) and moves to New York City to work in a law firm and discover herself. She meets the single partygirl Robin (Rebel Wilson) who teaches her the tricks of being single in a big city. Then we have Alice’s sister Meg (Leslie Mann) who has a hard time changing her career goals to settle down with a boyfriend and baby, and Lucy (Alison Brie), who is desperate to find “the one” and settle down.

The only relatively normal person is Alice, the rest are very stereotypical female characters – the promiscuous party girl, the fiercely independent one who won’t let anybody in, and the serial online dater desperate to come across Mr. Right. But this is actually a work of genius because between them they cover a wide spectrum of women and the female audience will be able to identify with aspects of at least one or two.

The comedy is very well-observed and contemporary, and some lines were so relatable I could not help but burst out laughing. Wilson comes out with some filthy and gross lines and the others are so cringeworthy and awkward. The men are hilarious in this too – from hot bartender Tom (Workaholics’ Anders Holm), Meg’s love interest Ken (Jake Lacy from Girls) and Lucy’s potential Mr. Right George (Jason Mantzoukas). It is obvious the cast improvised a lot and it makes the humour more natural and fresh.

It isn’t all about the laughs. Although it is called How to be Single, it is mostly about Alice’s attempts to have a relationship and how she is not good at being alone. There are some touchingly sweet or sad moments in each of the girls’ stories that made the women in the audience audibly go “aaww”. One plotline, with Alice’s date David (played by Damon Wayans, Jr.) and his daughter, is really tragic and it felt tonally out of place in a movie that is supposed to be fun.

This sense of fun is set from the very start with the bassy club beat of Martin Solveig’s Intoxicated as the film opens on Wilson busting some moves on the dancefloor in a shirt with a light-up arrow pointing to her downstairs. That perfectly illustrates the tone of the movie. The Bridesmaids star gets the best lines and physical comedy moments. While I do find her funny, I can’t help but notice she plays the same part in everything. Literally the same! Johnson is sweet and relatable and the audience are with her on her emotional journey. Mann is a comedy veteran so can always be relied upon to play the neurotic woman, and I wanted to see Brie more – I enjoyed her scenes a lot.

This sounds like it is 100% a girls movie, and while women will definitely enjoy it more, many men did indeed laugh. This is a riot which avoids a lot of the obvious romcom pitfalls, puts a fresh spin on the genre and should leave everybody with a smile on their face.