|DVD Romantic Comedy|
|Written by Bill Warren|
|Tuesday, 23 February 1999|
‘Singles’ is a witty, amiable romantic comedy that follows misadventures of the heart among a group of twenty-something Seattle residents.
Ad exec Linda (Kyra Sedgwick), reeling from a breakup, warily becomes involved with Steve (Campbell Scott), a Department of Transportation employee who is passionate on the subject of gridlock. Bright waitress Janet (Bridget Fonda) is mad about boneheaded, untalented grunge rocker Chris (Matt Dillon). And tense poseur Debbie (Sheila Kelley) signs up with a video dating service in the hopes of finding Mr. Right.
‘Singles’ is director/writer Cameron Crowe’s follow-up to ‘Say Anything,’ and he demonstrates in a gift for both depicting gentle, funny courtship as well as creating believable people who are humorous and genuinely decent. The dialogue is consistently entertaining without stretching for one-liners and in Scott’s expertly played Steve, Crowe has a most appealing hero who expresses his feelings for his beloved in credibly touching terms. Fonda is delightful in showing Janet’s blind and insightful sides with equal dexterity. Dillon is hilariously dead-on as Cliff, a musician arguably dim enough to be right at home in the legendary company of Spinal Tap.
Crowe has aurally decorated the film with nearly end-to-end music that the DVD reproduces more attractively than did many of the theatrical sound systems that were in use during the film’s original 1992 release. The rendition of "Waiting for Somebody" over the opening credits in Chapter 1 is hand-clappingly infectious, while the introduction of Dillon’s Cliff in Chapter 6 tells us much that we ought to know about him simply from the distinctive twang of his slightly out-of-tune acoustic steel strings. Chapter 11 encompasses a whole wall-rattling medley ("Radio Song," "Family Affair," "She Sells Sanctuary" and "May This Be Love") in a nightclub scene that retains the soars and plunges of the music without compromising the dialogue track. Colors are vivid and rich and the ‘Singles’ DVD blessedly comes in its original widescreen version, with that incomprehensible alternative, the panned-and-scanned "full-screen" version, on the disk’s flip side.
‘Singles’ does have a few drawbacks. The plot wanders around a little more than is helpful for a sense of forward thrust, and some supporting characters are dealt with in ways that occasionally teeter on the brink of overstatement. However, the overall tone is subtle, bemused and uncommonly humane--no one is arbitrarily bitchy or coy. As contemporary romantic comedies go, ‘Singles’ is a pleasant example of the genre.