Slightly Single in LA
Lacey Chabert, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Kip Pardue, Haylie Duff, Carley Schroeder
US DVD: 3 Sep 2013
It’s a complaint as old as Hollywood itself: dating is difficult in Los Angeles. In Slightly Single in LA, we follow 20-something Dale Squire (Lacey Chabert) through a short series of failed relationships in her non-descript hometown. Frustrated by these setbacks, Dale decides that she’s moving out to LA to look for love.
From the movie’s very first scenes, we’re attacked by bad-dating clichés. Dale’s first significant boyfriend cheats on her with her two best friends; she catches another man in bed with a dominatrix and man with a pig mask; a promising boyfriend turns out to be gay.
Flash forward to a few years later when Dale finds herself in bed with quasi-boyfriend J.P. (Simon Rex), a celebrity photographer with a foot fetish that director Christie Will paints as downright disgusting. It’s the first sign that the film isn’t going to make a miraculous recovery from its opening scenes and become an original, engaging rom-com. It’s only five minutes into the movie, and already we’re inundated with images of how poor, normal Dale suffers in a world of deviant sex freaks.
Enter Dale’s quirky gay best friend Seven (Jonathan Bennett), whom she describes as both her roommate and closest confidante. He, too, is a walking stereotype from the perfect arc of his eyebrows to his high-pitched, sing-song voice. Things aren’t any more original where Lacey’s two best friends, Becca (Carly Schroeder) and Hallie (Jenna Dewan-Tatum), are concerned. The first time we meet ditzy blonde Becca, she demonstrates her thoughtlessness by reading a tabloid report that Dale’s sort-of boyfriend J.P. has fathered a child with a supermodel.
And then there’s Zach (Kip Pardue), an old friend of Dale’s who is now a big rock-and-roll star. It’s clear from their nervous dialogue and fumbling interaction in a park that they’re both attracted to each other and that the movie will make sure that they slowly drift together. Of course, Hallie is also intent on hooking up with Zach. It’s obviously a contrived plot point meant to encourage tension between Hallie and Dale, but that tension never develops. The dialogue is just too ridiculous to be believable.
Only one of Dale’s friends, the uptight and pretentious Jill (Haylie Duff), is in a long-term relationship. Her fiance Drew (Chris Kattan) is portrayed as a jerk who wears fashionable jogging suits and hounds Jill about her personality and lifestyle. It’s a terrible choice for Kattan, who can utilize neither his quirky humor or physical expressiveness to advance his character.
Jill and Drew are shown time and time again arguing in the film. Dale narrates these moments for us, letting us in on her deepest thoughts about love and relationships. The only problem is that none of these thoughts are meaningful or original. Instead of coming across as the person in deep thought that her facial expression suggests, we get the sense that Dale is essentially immature and eager to blame others for her love problems.
Midway through the movie, frustrated with all her chatter about Zach, Seven asks Dale, “Why don’t you just go for him?!” As viewers, we feel his frustration. The majority of the film’s scenes are composed of Dale complaining either about the men she’s dating or the men she’s not dating. Although Seven tries to call her out for her behavior, the script doesn’t allow Dale to escape the pit that she’s fallen into. It’s a depressing mess to watch that becomes even more depressing when we consider that a woman actually wrote this stereotypical drivel.
It doesn’t help that the film is punctuated by Dale’s voiceover monologues. Addressing the audience directly, she does the same old thing: she complains about her narcissistic friends, bad dating choices and the social climate of LA. While Chabert delivers a heartfelt performance, she simply can’t overcome the bland script from which she’s working. The same is true for Pardue, who tries hard to make sparks fly in the midst of a story that’s absurd, but not in an entertaining way. Don’t be fooled by the cute packaging and occasional laughs: Slightly Single in LA is a mediocre film that has nothing exciting or sexy to say.
A bonus “Meet the Director” feature doesn’t do anything to endear Will or her story to viewers. It’s ironic that Will talks negatively about the stereotypes others have about LA when all she does is reproduce these stereotypes in her film. Like the rest of the film, this short monologue delivered by the director doesn’t do anything to advance the story or make it meaningful.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times.
// Short Ends and Leader
"Alex Garland’s Ex Machina is a darkly funny and philosophical cyberpunk locked-room thriller that tangles with the greatest sci-fi puzzle: What does it mean to be human?READ the article