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By Phil Hall | August 11, 2009

Richard Atkinson and Jane Scandurra’s documentary “Single” spends 97 minutes exploring a subject that could have easily been encapsulated in a 10-minute news segment: the high number of unmarried people.

The film notes there are 100 million single adults in the U.S., and that many cities have more spouse-free individuals than married couples. The film points to the women’s movement of the early 1970s as being the keystone of this sociological shift, while contemporary issues relating to professional pursuits and changing attitudes on relations are pegged as being the current driving forces in keeping people single.

But the film is sloppy, repetitive, and dull, with a number of obscure academicians and comedians offering less-than-illuminating commentary on what it means to be single today. Even worse, Atkinson and Scandurra appear to believe that the seemingly upper middle class denizens of a Manhattan cocktail lounge are representative of America’s unmarried masses – a great deal of the film is devoted to comments by this very small selection of men and women, most of whom can barely keep a straight face when talking about being nagged by family members eager to see them wed.

The film also pads its running time with endless travelogue shots of New York landmarks, along with glimpses of famous locations in London and Paris. (Apparently, there are unmarried people in England and France, too!) You know a film is in trouble when static shots of the Empire State Building are more interesting than anything being said by the people on camera.

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