Better Off Single

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Better Off Single Movie Poster Image
Tired romcom's sweet message drowned out by clichés, sexism.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 85 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Love is out there, and even if finding the right person is a painful, time-consuming process, it's worth it in the end.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While many of the men in the movie seem like stereotypes who just want to get women into bed (and they spend plenty of time talking about it in a pretty misogynistic way), in the end they really are all looking for love. And Charlie, the main character, has a kind heart, and is reluctant to play the field in search of one-night-stands -- he's really looking for true love.

Violence

A couple is mugged by two thugs and fights them off in a brawl. Couples bicker and sometimes yell at each other. 

Sex

No graphic nudity, but, really, the whole movie is about sex. Characters talk about it constantly: They describe what they've been doing, talk about what's not happening in their lives, make plenty of suggestive comments, and tell explicit stories. Several sequences suggest masturbation and oral sex. Many scenes of characters, often just in underwear, rolling around in bed, kissing, and cuddling. Several scenes with public urination. 

Language

Frequent swearing, including "f--k," "s--t," and "bitch," as well as many graphic conversations about sex using words like "d--k" and "p---y." Homophobic jokes include words like "queer."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink frequently at bars, at parties, and at home. Sometimes they get pretty wasted. One character smokes pot. A few scenes show men smoking cigars. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Better Off Single is a romcom about an average guy on the New York City dating scene. Charlie is looking for true love, but he's sometimes willing to settle for a one-night-fling. There's lots of sex, though no actual nudity (but plenty of skimpy underwear). And when the characters aren't having sex, they're talking about sex, often using crude, sexist, and homophobic terms. Masturbation and oral sex are implied, and there are scenes of public urination. There's also a mugging and a fight, and the characters spend plenty of time drinking at bars and nightclubs, often getting pretty wasted. They also smoke cigars and pot. Swearing is frequent and includes "f--k," "s--t," and crude terms about sex and body parts (like "d--k," "bitch," and "p---y").

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What's the story?

Fed up at work and unsatisfied with his relationship, Charlie (Aaron Tveit) quits his job and breaks up with his longtime girlfriend, Angela (Abby Elliott), on the same day. Encouraged by his friends (Shane McRae, Lauren Miller, and Kal Penn), Charlie dives back into the New York City dating pool. But after one misadventure after another, he starts to wonder whether true love is just a myth. Maybe he really would be BETTER OFF SINGLE.

Is it any good?

There's little in this romantic comedy that hasn't already been said or done in more entertaining movies. In fact, Better Off Single seems more like a series of barely linked comedy sketches about Charlie's romantic mishaps than a coherent story. Tveit is appealing enough, but he's got one main expression -- a combination of stupefaction and shock, like he can't believe what he's just seen and has no idea what to say or do about it. (Or maybe he just can't believe he's in this movie?) 

The film tries to make Charlie seem like a catch who's just waiting to find the right woman. But it's hard to imagine that anyone would be able to see the goodness in him when he's so often surrounded by crass, sexist, homophobic bros. Their "advice" and encouragement all seems lifted straight from a pick-up artist's manual. The movie's underlying message is simple and sweet -- love is out there, and finding it is worth the pain and suffering -- but there are many better movies with the same lesson. Better Off Single is better off skipped.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Better Off Single's take on sex and dating. Do Charlie's experiences seem realistic? Is that really what it's like to look for love these days? Does it trivialize the struggle? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • How are women portrayed in the movie? Are stereotypes reinforced or undermined? What message does that send?

  • How is drinking depicted in the movie? Is it glamorized? Are there realistic consequences? Why does that matter?

  • How do Charlie's feelings about love compare to his friends'? Is he more of a romantic? Does that make him more appealing? Do you think that's the intention?

Movie details

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