Jack (Paul Campell) and Meagan (Alex Paxton-Beesley) seemingly have it all. They’re married, they have a great number of friends, and as Dirty Singles begins, they’ve recently purchased their first house. A house party introduces us to all of our characters — and there are a lot of them — and the rest of the film follows the lot of them as they try to navigate the incredibly difficult thing that we call “life.”
Or, more correctly, they try to navigate “relationships,” because approximately 100% of our film is about the big R word. There isn’t any time for, you know, innocuous conversations about the weather because, like, did you hear that Jack and Meagan split? Or that Carol cheated on Sean? Or that Gordo and Caprice might be having a thing? Everything gets tangled up, you start to wonder how these people ever became good friends — not partners — in the first place, and eventually it becomes clear that nobody is going to be happy because nobody has any idea how to stay faithful to his or her partner. Just like real life, ha ha! I kid.
I wish I was joking about how solely focused on relationships the characters in the film are. The dialogue is otherwise naturalistic and interesting, but the singular focus on one topic for 80 minutes becomes … it becomes a little tiresome, okay? It’s not how people are. There are other things in life, but there aren’t in this movie. Dirty Singles wants to demonstrate how complicated and messy relationships can be, and it’s going to beat that drum until we’re sick of it.
Luckily, at only 80 minutes in length, we don’t get sick of it until we look back retrospectively and try to think of a single other topic that was brought up within it, and can’t. The dialogue, as I said, is natural, and it’s also quite funny and surprisingly (or unsurprisingly?) raunchy and profane. Even when all of the characters are going through personal crises, it’s enjoyable to listen to them. That’s really all that you do in the film — you listen to them speak — but it’s enjoyable nonetheless.
It’s surprising that in such a short time, we get to know so many characters — it felt like there were 10 of them — so intimately. Even keeping track of so many individuals in such a short period is a tough task, and while I admit to not being able to remember all of their names, I could recognize each of them by appearance and remember what their “deal” is. It’s a testament to writer-director Alex Pugsley’s ability to make sense of everything in such a chaotic world, and to do so in such a short amount of time.
I suppose it’s also a testament to the actors for each bringing something unique to the screen. They all — for the most part, anyway — look different from one another, which helps, but there’s very little personality overlap. Maybe that’s unrealistic, as not everyone is 95% different from everyone else, especially in a group of friends, but it helps the audience, so I’m okay with it. The actors are all natural and deliver the dialogue well, even if top-drawer emotion never really comes into play.
It is kind of difficult to care about many of the people in this film, as almost all of their problems are caused by their inability to, well, be good people to their partners. There’s maybe one sympathetic character in the whole movie, but he never seems to let things bother him. And there are times when Dirty Singles wants to hit emotional notes, but fails because there’s no reason for us to care. It’s far more of a comedy anyway, and it still succeeds because it’s frequently funny, but any emotional resonance is lost.
Dirty Singles is a very funny movie about how tough relationships can be, especially when you’re in a group of friends who all fancy each other and don’t care a whole lot about if they hurt their current partner if it means they can have an affair with someone else. It is funny, even if roughly 100% of the dialogue is focused on relationships, because the film has a very one-track mind. Still, it’s enjoyable, and despite the large cast, you can tell everyone apart, which is a testament to the actors and the film’s writer-director.