How to Be Single

image for How to Be Single

Short takes

Not suitable under 15; parental guidance to 15 (sexual activity, substance use, crude humour, coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for How to Be Single
  • a review of How to Be Single completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 22 February 2016.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not suitable due to sexual activity, substance use, crude humour and coarse language.
Children aged 15 Parental guidance recommended due to sexual activity, substance use, crude humour and coarse language.
Children aged 16 and over Ok for this age group, although there are issues parents may wish to discuss.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: How to Be Single
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Crude sexual humour and coarse language
Length: 110 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

How to Be Single follows the stories of four single young women in New York City. Alice (Dakota Johnson) decides that she needs a break from her long-term boyfriend Josh (Nicholas Braun) and moves to New York to discover who she is when she is alone. Robin (Rebel Wilson), a fun loving party-girl, befriends Alice and teaches her how to embrace being single. Alice’s older sister Meg (Leslie Mann) is trying to decide whether she wants to become a single mother and Lucy (Alison Brie) is trying to navigate the world of online dating to find her soulmate.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Relationship breakdown; Drug and alcohol abuse; Death of a parent; Sex.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Tom’s girlfriend slaps him across the face after she sees him kissing another girl.
  • Verbal fights.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • There are several scenes where a woman is shown in labour and giving birth.
  • Robin runs in front of a taxi intentionally so that she will be hit by it and get a free ride.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are likely to be scared or disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes and by an emotionally confronting scene where David openly discusses with his young daughter about how her mother died.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Apple; Nike.

Sexual references

There are frequent sexual references and innuendo in this movie, including:

  • Plenty of sexualised dancing in clubs and bars.
  • Frequent crude humour such as, “when you pass go collect 200 dicks” and “you should bang your way through NYC”.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Characters frequently kiss and have sex, both with their partners and with strangers.
  • Both male and female characters are seen in their underwear and a man shows his naked bottom.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Drinking is shown as an enjoyable and recommended way to solve your problems.
  • The movie frequently shows the characters drinking alcohol in bars and getting drunk to the point of forgetting the previous night.
  • Robin wakes up with ‘weed’ in her hair and tests positive on a drug test. She is also shown crushing some pills and sniffing them to get over a hangover.

Coarse language

There is coarse language in this movie, including:

  • shit/ holy shit
  • fuck/fucking
  • asshole
  • hell
  • dick
  • bitch.

In a nutshell

How to Be Single is a comedy about friendship and enjoying being single. It is a movie for adults and older adolescents which may appeal to younger teens. However, because of the sex scenes, crude humour, coarse language and substance use, this film is not recommended for children under 15 years old, and there are a number of issues that parents may wish to discuss with older teens.

The main message from this movie is that you should make the most of being single because it gives you a chance to find out who you are.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • friendship
  • independence
  • resilience.

Parents may wish to discuss the real-life consequences of getting drunk, taking drugs and having sex with strangers.