SinglesSeptember. 18,1992 PG-13
Prime Video Movies
Romance in the '90s is where you find it. But what do you do to make it happen in today's hilariously mixed-up Singles world?
It's a group of single neighbors in Seattle. Linda Powell (Kyra Sedgwick) is happy to be living by herself after college. Steve Dunne (Campbell Scott) wants to concentrate on work to avoid the complication of love. They find each other nevertheless but struggle to commit. Janet Livermore (Bridget Fonda) is a 23 year old waitress saving money for school. Cliff Poncier (Matt Dillon) is her aloof musician boyfriend. Their friend Debbie Hunt (Sheila Kelley) does video dating.Like other Cameron Crowe movies, the music is a big selling point and this taps into the emerging grunge scene in Seattle. However, the movie itself is a bit of a letdown. It tries to bring out the chaos of twentysomething love. It doesn't have great leads for the primary love story. It's strange that I always thought Bridget Fonda was the lead in the movie probably due to the poster. I remember her more than the primary leads Kyra Sedgwick and Campbell Scott. They don't have the superior A-list persona needed. It holds the movie back. The movie also is a step down from Crowe's other earlier works.
I always considered Cameron Crowe's SINGLES as something I really had to see. My one and only connection to it: the grunge. As a huge grunge fan (especially of Pearl Jam) I've had since years ago a sort of pending meeting with Crowe's second feature. Today I finally sat down I watched it on DVD. I have to say, if you want something more related to music, something like, I'm pretty much guessing as I have seen only parts of it (the "Tiny Dancer" part for sure), Crowe's ALMOST FAMOUS, or something that really puts you in the "grunge scene", you'll disappointed. To be fair, it made think in that music-related talk with Quentin Tarantino from the Collector's Edition of the PULP FICTION Soundtrack. And that is because Tarantino says this: "what I don't wanna do is, and I've see it happen in a lot of movies, where they just turn up the soundtrack to create a false energy, or in particularly to create a sense of period. They're not investing in the picture. OK, it's the sixties, we play a lot of sixties songs and that will create the period. To me that's cheap, like listening to the radio and watching a movie at the same time. They don't really go together". In this case, I wouldn't go as far as to call the use of some Pearl Jam songs, and the scenes of Alice In Chains and Soundgarden playing at some bar, cheap, but they definitely don't create something special, something that, like I said, really put us in early 90s Seattle. For instance, it's only people dancing in a club to a Pearl Jam song (always great to hear Pearl Jam though). And yes, maybe that's just early 90s Seattle, and yes I'm caring too much about the setting of the story but to be more fair, I wouldn't have seen a "romantic comedy" by Cameron Crowe if not for the grunge thing. I mean, something like Crowe's SAY ANYTHING is not the kind of movie I'm always looking forward to check out. So, the level of disappointment that SINGLES gives to you may certainly vary. I mean, you can enter here not knowing anything about the grunge setting, or you can enter here seeking for a movie about early 90s Seattle musicians (maybe thanks to the image of Matt Dillon with the "grunge look" and his guitar). In my case, and like I said, it did disappointed me in the setting thing but in the end I really can't say this is something anybody should runaway from, that anybody should avoid at all costs. It's a pretty darn normal "relationships movie", simply as that. It almost never feels false in that regard, which is certainly the best thing. My main point here is that pretty much this whole story doesn't go hand-to-hand with the period it is setting in. Sure, Matt Dillon's character Cliff has a grunge band (you just gotta like a whole lot this character! "Now, a song like "Touch Me, I'm Dick" is about... what?"; Cliff: "Well, I think "Touch Me, I'm Dick," in essence speaks for itself. I think that, you know, that's basically what the song is, um... about... is about, you know... I think a lot of people might think it's actually about, you know, "My name is Dick, and, you know, you can touch me," but, I think, you know, it can be seen either way") and the other main characters (played by Campbell Scott, Kyra Sedgwick, Bridget Fonda, Sheila Kelley and Jim True-Frost –nice to see "Prez" from "The Wire"–; the acting is fine) go out to bars to listen to Alice in Chains (there's a scene with main character Steve, and Sedgwick's character Linda, and his record collection, Hendrix, the Clash, you know), to dance to "State of Love and Trust", but are they really Generation X characters? Well, the main couple in the movie, Steve and Linda, ain't. Like I said, it is an ordinary relationships movie, that is entertaining and that probably you can enjoy more than me. If I will remember SINGLES for something is definitely for its great cameos: Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament (is just fun with these guys! They play the band mates of Cliff's band. Eddie is the drummer of the band, by the way), Chris Cornell (totally great, hilarious! Sort of reminded me Jay and Silent Bob from CLERKS an other Kevin Smith movies I have yet to see) and Tim Burton (as a video maker who "is only like the next Martin Scorsese"!). So, memorable details in an entertaining if totally ordinary love story that would be my summary of SINGLES. Oh, and the soundtrack is certainly great, but some of the background music during the film is not (think of the opening theme of "Friends" and you'll get the idea. When I thought this I didn't know that this movie became sort of the basis for "Friends", if wikipedia doesn't lie: "Warner Bros Television tried immediately to turn Singles into a television series. When Crowe balked at the notion, the company proceeded with the idea, engaged a new writing and directing team, changing elements and the name to Friends").
These are the same humorous stories of neurotic, wounded, gullible, vain, and humiliated people we see and hear fourteen(!) years after this movie came out, but this is an original that's still witty and fresh. Cameron Crowe's thoughtful exploration of single life has universal appeal.Having said that, this movie is also an unabashed love letter to Seattle as well as a portrait in miniature of one the city's heydays: the height of grunge-rock scene.The previously overlooked Seattle suddenly outshone NYC, LA, and SF (if only for a few years) as the coolest city in America, thanks to the mass appeal of local bands like Nirvana, Alice in Chains (who have a performance in the film) and Pearl Jam (who are acting in this film).The city itself becomes a character in the film and even it's famously damp weather couldn't keep it from being seen, through Cameron's eyes, as a terribly romantic and lively place to live in.(Luckily for Seattle it's still seen as a sophisticated metropolis, long after grunge, "Singles", "Frasier", Starbucks, and the novelty surrounding them all faded away.)There's no need for future generations to do any retrospective films about early nineties Seattle; "Singles" is all we need.
This movie has almost convinced me that I am way too closed minded about mainstream movies.I saw this mainly because of its 'grunge' soundtrack, composed by the brilliant Paul Westerberg.What I saw was not a 'grunge' subculture movie, but rather a conventional romantic comedy, probably quite similar to many Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts movies, but I loved it! Sometimes you need a bit of sugar in a movie, in the same way you need to escape, or have your mind expanded.I really enjoyed this movie, and I find it hard to believe that anyone can not find something to like about it. One of my favourites of all time!