'How To Be Single': Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Leslie Mann Tell Us How To Fly Solo On Valentine's Day

How to Be Single Cast
Leslie Mann, Dakota Johnson and Rebel Wilson star in the romantic comedy "How to Be Single," which hits theaters Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. Barry Wetcher/2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

What is the definition of a romantic comedy and why is this important? As Valentine's Day weekend is upon us, plenty of moviegoers will be flocking to theaters across the country waiting for this year's date movie to teach us the do's and don'ts about relationships.

According to Webster's Dictionary, a romantic comedy or "rom-com" for short, is a "light-hearted, humorous film" where the plot centers on romantic ideals such as true love and the obstacles that surround it.

From the onset of How to Be Single -- which hits theaters Friday, Feb. 12 -- we quickly discover that this is not your "average" romantic comedy by definition.

The film tackles the dangerous and often ugly world of dating in New York City through the eyes of seven single men and women, each of whom are at different stages of their various lives.

Dakota Johnson stars as Alice, a paralegal that has chosen to be single after college moves to the Big Apple in search of Sex and the City style escapades. Johnson conjures images of a modern day Dianne Keaton as she traverses the streets of Manhattan and she handles humor as gracefully and beautifully as she does the deeper emotions buried beneath the plot. Johnson's naivety and charm, revealed through her eyes brighten our journey into being a bachelorette.

Alice's best friend, Robin (Rebel Wilson) crashes into every scene as the co-pilot on Alice's adventures into the modern day dating world. Wilson masterfully steals every scene she's in, hitting us like a hurricane, before quickly dissipating into the New York night.

"It's always good with comedy to hit it at all different angles," Wilson said of how she approached each scene. "You don't just want to have jokes. It's always good to mix it up and go for it."

Alice starts her stay in Manhattan on the couch of her older sister, Meg (Leslie Mann), who has chosen career over love and a family. Meg is single, but after 30 seconds trapped in a room with a baby, she quickly feels her paternal clock ticking and decides it's time to hit the sperm bank.

Mann is the heartbeat of the film, and she provides the balance and care that only the mature member of the group can as her relationship with the much younger Ken (Jake Lacy), is both endearing and refreshing to watch.

Leslie Mann Actress Leslie Mann stars as "Meg" in the new romantic comedy, "How to Be Single," which hits theaters Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. Barry Wetcher/2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

The city itself is the most underrated character in the film as director, Christian Ditter, perfectly masquerades Manhattan and its beauty into the shadows of every scene as his novice New York eye finds artistry in landscapes that are often overlooked by natives.

"I had only been to New York once, as a tourist," Ditter explained. "I wanted to get a feel for the city as I did when I was a tourist. I wanted everything to look and feel real."

Surprisingly, the male characters of the movie have just as much heart and depth as their female counterparts do. Contrary, to the movie posters and the early trailers, the men of Manhattan are the other half to this heart.

"The male roles in romantic comedies tend to be shallow," added screenwriter Marc Silverstein. "I always look out for that side of things and try to approach it from the male perspective."

Tom (Anders Holm) is the local bar owner whose commitment-phobia leads to his philandering ways until he realizes he has fallen for Lucy (Allison Brie), and her analytical spreadsheet on the single men of Manhattan.

Anders Holm and Allison Brie Actors Anders Holm and Allison Brie star in the new romantic comedy, "How to Be Single" which hits theaters Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. JoHo Whilden/2015 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Alice dates David (Damon Wayans Jr.) who plays the successful single dad that is secretly battling demons that ultimately will sabotage any meaningful relationship he finds in the future. His storyline is the most serious and brings a tear-jerking finale to the final moments of the movie.

"I love the message at the end of the movie," Mann said. "I'm excited for my two girls to see it and I'm excited for the movement."

The film is not without its faults however, and it has its hollow moments. For much of the film it feels like we're watching a mash up of Trainwreck, Sex and the City and Girls all rolled into one. The multiple storylines reveal all the various relationship archetypes, but the writers rush their conclusions and resolve issues with a simple "Six months later…" title card.

With that said traditional romantic comedies typically detail the genesis of a relationship climaxing in the moment when both characters realize their love for each other and legitimize those feelings with a proposal of marriage or a ceremony of some sort. How to Be Single turns that notion on its head and throws surprising twists at us just as we think each relationship is about to take a predictable turn.

This element is often the case in real life, and something we hardly ever see in romantic comedies that are hard-nosed about the narrative having a "happy ending," at least when it comes to the principals relationship. We found the realistic aspects of the film to be both refreshing and exciting. Audiences will discover themselves in these characters and their stories, which are told with wit, grace and romantic pathos.

"When we talk about an ending where the woman doesn't end up with the guy, to me it's still a happy ending," said screenwriter Abby Kohn. "Ending a movie with someone having been on a journey, and feeling hopeful about the future whether it's with a guy or not has always seemed just as valid."

If this movie was just a romantic comedy, it's one the studio and genre could be proud of, but the fact of the matter is the movie is so much more than the average rom-com and viewers will be pleasantly surprised by its blend of social commentary as well as its warning to the pitfalls of modern day dating.

The film is about loss, just as much as it is about love. It's about friendship, fun and realizing what's most meaningful in life (hint: it's not swiping right). But more importantly, it's about learning to "let go" of the naïve preconceptions of relationships, single life, and love.

So whether you're single or in a relationship this Valentine's Day weekend, we encourage you to make plans to go see this heartwarming and hilarious film. But if you do happen to be without a mate come Sunday, don't fret, the film's stars have a solution:

"Get a bottle of wine, get f$#%ed up and go to sleep," said Johnson emphatically.

Sounds like sound advice to us.

What do you think?
Michael Duarte

Michael J. Duarte is a Los Angeles based writer. Born and raised in the City of Angels, Michael did his undergraduate work at the University of California Santa Barbara and a graduate program at the University of Southern California. Michael was awarded the Paul Lazarus Screenwriting Scholarship Award in 2004 and the Corwin Writing Award for his feature screenplay, "Chasing 4:00" in 2005. In addition to Sports writing, Michael is an avid marathon runner and fan of the Magic Bullet blender.