I always name this classic Seattle-set Cameron Crowe romcom as one of my Top Ten Films although it’s a good few years since I watched it. So many that I’d even forgotten it had title cards for the individual sections, which somehow manages not to be the most ’90s thing about it. Inevitably that’s the fashions, which involve oversized clothing a minimum of two sizes too big, the jackets being the worst offenders. Grunge-shirts abound yet how many uninspired identikitkat red/black plaid combos are there? Big fat zero, obvs. Welcome to The Real World. Funnily enough one sight gag sequence with a character wearing a (then novel and slightly fussy) cycling helmet no longer works. Time was their greatest enemy.
Singles used to be about the following things:
- messy 20-something relationships
- “vaguely rrrawkin'” hair
- awesome Grunge cameos everywhere
- DAT OST
- O Bridget Fonda, where art thou?
Here’s what Singles is now about in 2016:
- Insert above list here
- More technology
OK, Eddie Vedder‘s goofy drummer and baby long-haired Chris Cornell‘s cameo turn are still great, along with the “Wait…is that Alice In Chains playing?” moment. What becomes more obvious with distance from the film however is how much in love with technology it is, mainly because the outdatedness of the tech makes it stand out to modern eyes.
I mean, sure, we get nostalgic/giggleworthy views of the beige box office workers PCs at work, best of all during Bridget Fonda‘s breast enlargement consultation. More than that though, the camera lingers on a selection of gorgeous chunky CRT televisions over the course of the film, deliberately keeping them in frame rather than just showing the image that they do. One character attempts Video Dating. Video. Dating. There’s a cameo by Tim Burton of all people as the guy who films her piece (if you’ll pardon the expression). The film itself opens with Kyra Sedgewick‘s character offering her chunky garage door remote as proxy for her heart; later we see the camera pan across a wide range of replacement remotes of varying designs; later still there’s an amusingly cheesy bit of opening/closing garage door symbolism. Also, an answerphone chews up a mini-cassette, but that’s par for the course.
Those non-grunge cameos abound too. The doctor who gives Bridget Fonda‘s character a chance to reconsider her spontaneous breast enlargement decision, an actor I vaguely recalled as being in that wholesome Templeton Peck/Harvey Dent mould, turns out to be Bill Pullman. Who doesn’t love Bill Pullman? Criminals and bad witches, that’s who! There’s a fun street mime too, revealed by the credits to be Eric Stoltz.
Matt Dillon puts in a fairly straightforward meathead band guy performance, definitely no Drugstore Cowboy. The other male lead is the blander-but-effective Campbell Scott, who is the Jeopardy answer “Why does The Amazing Peter Parker‘s dad look vaguely familiar?”. The whole is seriously a decent non-ironic, funny, super-nostalgic, indie-ish, early ’90s romcom. Well worth 96 minutes of your time.
WIBIL #9: Rewatching Singles, especially if it’s been a while, is best in life