As portraits of a generation go, Singles is a Polaroid: fast, vivid, disposable. While the movie isn’t as dramatically cohesive as his 1989 Say Anything, Cameron Crowe has snagged the droll cynicism permeating alternative music. His secondary plots — involving scruffy musicians, ornery roommates, and lovelorn waitresses — sputter with lazy comic naturalism.

Unfortunately, Singles‘ main plot thread is a drippy romance between clean-cut Campbell Scott and Kyra Sedgwick, and it provides the tip-off. The writer-director’s talents notwithstanding, this is the same old youth picture Hollywood has been churning out for decades. For an idea of how safe Singles plays it, look at the six minutes of outtakes at the end of the video. The scenes aren’t much — they include a tarty cameo appearance by Civil Wars‘ Debi Mazar and a visit to an existential French comedy club — but they do highlight Crowe’s goofier impulses.

With fewer such loose moments in the final cut, Singles sticks to the rules: It drags on the latest musical gods, offers up mottos in place of dialogue, and serves as an invaluable fashion catalog for those not already clued in. B

  • Movie