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Director: Cameron Crowe; Stars: Bridget Fonda, Campbell Scott, Kyra Sedgwick, Matt Dillon; Release Date: November 29, 2005

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There are a Couple of Good Things About Singles

  • May 26, 2004
  • by
Pros: music, Bridget Fonda, fun cameos, a couple of conversations

Cons: Campbell Scott, horrible pacing, tries too hard, mostly bad dialogue

The Bottom Line: Love in the '90s is paranoid, but Crowe makes it seem pretty lame.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

One of the beautiful things about Say Anything (1989) is its innocence. You experience 19-year-old Lloyd’s jubilation and pain as he falls in love and enters a relationship for the first time. This freshness makes Lloyd’s actions and emotions ring true for many viewers. When a teenager goes to someone’s house and holds up a jukebox, it’s sweet. If a thirty-year-old shows up unannounced, it’s just stalking.

Three years later, Cameron Crowe tried desperately to make a movie that spoke to an older audience, late 20s and early 30s singles. However, despite dialogue that is painfully clever at times and dozens of topical cameos, Singles (1992) treads on stale ground. In this film about a group of single people in Seattle, the characters are either bland or unrealistic, and the scenes are familiar, but not in a "it’s funny cuz it’s true" kind of way. My mom got so bored with it after fifteen minutes that she left the room. Singles feels much longer than its 99-minute running time.

One of my biggest movie pet peeves is unrealistic dialogue. With a few exceptions, the conversations in Singles feel very forced, and the others try to make the mundane profound. I had the sense that Cameron Crowe really longed for people to go around quoting this movie. Garage door openers as a symbol of a committed relationship? OK, maybe… but it reminded me of that part of Mean Girls when Gretchen attempts to make "fetch" the new hip word. All the scenes scream, "I really want to be insightful," but nearly all of the observations are common knowledge.

Does Cameron Crowe think portraying the telephone games people play is something new? Everyone knows that you can’t call someone too soon after you get their number, but if you wait too long, they may have met someone else. In an even more blatant "duh!" moment, we see protagonist Steve (a completely forgettable Campbell Scott) thinking about basketball to try to last longer during sex. Seattle Supersonic Xavier McDaniel’s appearance in this reverie is supposed to be funny, but there are a dozen ways that another writer (Woody Allen, perhaps?) could have made this scene unique and hilarious.

Steve and his on-again, off-again girlfriend Linda (Kyra Sedgewick) are the every-couple of the '90s. They bond over their admiration of “May This Be Love” by Jimi Hendrix because, you know, liking Jimi is so unusual. We’re supposed to root for these guys to stay together and make babies, but this couple is so boring that I really couldn’t care less.

The one part of the movie I thought was mildly funny was when Debbie registers for a video dating service and she and her friends watch the tapes of some of her male suitors. As I’m sure you can guess, they aren’t exactly the cream of the crop. However, if you want a really good look at the perils of personal ads, check out Next Stop Wonderland, which is ten times better than Singles.

Steve’s neighbors Cliff (Matt Dillon), a struggling musician in a band called Citizen Dick, and Janet (Bridget Fonda) are the other focus of Singles. Cliff is stupid and insensitive, but Janet is in love with him. A lot of people find Bridget Fonda annoying, but I think she's cute, and her character was one of the only ones I liked in this film. After Cliff responds, “Sometimes” to Janet’s asking if her breasts are too small, she is willing to go under the knife for him.

Most people watch Singles these days for the music. People who are nostalgic for the Seattle grunge scene will be thrilled with the rare footage of Alice in Chains and other alternative bands in their heyday. Eddie Vedder plays a member of Citizen Dick, and Chris Cornell (then of Soundgarden) is a friend. The soundtrack features songs by Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Mudhoney, Jane’s Addiction, the Pixies, REM, Alice in Chains, and, of course, Jimi Hendrix, the best Seattle has ever produced.

One final redeeming feature of Singles is that Jeremy Piven is brilliant, as always, in his one scene as a supermarket check-out clerk who recognizes Steve from parties that Steve used to DJ in college.

For me, Singles was a good laundry folding, free on-demand flick, but I would have been mighty disappointed if I had paid to rent it.


Viewing Format: VHS
Video Occasion: Better than Watching TV
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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review by . December 16, 2008
Singles has to be one of my all-time favorite 90's movies (although my list of movie faves is pretty long). I should say right up front that for me, the club scenes alone are reason enough to love this movie. I am a huge fan of grunge/alternative rock. So the performances by Soundgarden and Alice in Chains are some of my favorite parts in the movie. Plus, Eddie Veddar has a bit role as a member of the fictional band, Citizen Dick. Matt Dillon is comedy as Cliff Ponsier, the mediocre and artistically-challenged …
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The Seattle music scene is the backdrop for this tale of single twentysomethings trying to find themselves and each other in the 1990s. Linda (Kyra Sedgwick) and Steve (Campbell Scott) meet in a club and begin to play the dating game. Janet (Bridget Fonda) has a thing for Cliff (Matt Dillon), who barely acknowledges her existence. Cameron Crowe's (SAY ANYTHING, JERRY MAGUIRE) script tackles the ups and downs of romance with humor and honesty. Highlights include live performances by Alice in Chains and Soundgarden, as well as cameos by the members of Pearl Jam.
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