It centers on two couples. One of them appears to be made for each other; the other couldn't be any worse. The soulmates of the film are Steve (Campbell Scott) and Linda (Kyra Sedgwick), veritably good-hearted people who've been unlucky in love for most of their twenties. But once they first catch a glimpse of another at an Alice in Chains concert, something ignites that cannot be diminished.
Their opposites come in the form of Cliff (Matt Dillon) and Janet (Bridget Fonda), who epitomize the eternally depressing type of pair in which one party cares about the relationship much more than the other. That party is Janet, a waitress who's so smitten with Cliff's wannabe rock star personality that she'd do anything just to make him care about her a little more. A shame: she's smart and she's a catch, but doesn't realize that she's wasting her time with a guy who'll never be impressed with what she has to offer.
And then there's Debbie (Sheila Kelley), a lovable oddball who's dying to find Mr. Right but is having minimal luck in her attempts.
Familiar material is something "Singles" wears on its sleeve shamelessly, but it's designed with such likability that we aren't much concerned that "Before Sunrise" and even "Notting Hill" played with similar formula with more stirring results. You can see the seeds of TV's "Friends" being planted within "Singles's" effectually amusing exterior, its hip, attractive, and youthful characters fit with temperaments and hang-ups that ring with the charisma of a particularly investing sitcom grouping. It's a relief that the film is insightful and easily humorous: then there'd be potential for TV asininity. But Crowe, hot off "Say Anything ..." and on the road to "Jerry Maguire," is more dedicated to shaping humanely sympathetic characters than to intensely focusing on romantics, and that's why the movie has maintained its crispness. Its era summarizing soundtrack, featuring Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Smashing Pumpkins, certainly doesn't hurt.
And the performances don't either. Ranging from simplistically entertaining (Dillon), quirkily sweet (Fonda, Kelley), and to genuinely touching (Sedgwick, Scott), the contrasts in their tonal centers heighten the feeling that "Singles," appealing as it is, is a lot like real life. A bold statement, sure: but wouldn't it be nice to live in a world where our plights were cinematic rather than unbearable? I think so. "Singles" conjoins naturalism and duende and finishes as a blithesome delicacy.
In this PG-13-rated dramedy, a group of twenty-something friends (Fonda, Scott, Kyra Sedgwick, Matt Dillon), most of whom live in the same apartment complex, search for love and success in grunge-era Seattle.
Though the story doesn't boast as much character as Crowe's '80s youth-defining work in Say Anything and the dialogue doesn't ring as resonantly as with his much more polished '90s rom-com masterwork Jerry Maguire, Singles' acting and setting provide a whipsmart and smart-ass look at a semi-modern romance. Plus, you get to see a Point of No Return-era Bridget Fonda, Dead Again-era Campbell Scott, Born on the Fourth of July-era Kyra Sedgwick, and Drugstore Cowboy-era Matt Dillon giving it their youthful all before taking on some more career-defining adult roles. Best of all, there's that soundtrack. Pearl Jam's "State of Love and Trust" - released exclusively for the motion picture - ranks among the band's best works.
Bottom line: Grunge Match
Cameron Crowe´s "Singles" is set against the backdrop of the early 1990s grunge movement in Seattle. Contrary to popular belief, the film was already well underway when the celebrated "Seattle sound" became popular, rather than being designed as a vehicle to capitalize on its popularity. In fact, this film was supposed to begin production in 1984, right after The Wild Life (1984) but the project was delayed. While completed in early 1991, the film was not released until September 1992. The film's release went through repeated delays while studio executives debated how to market it. Warner Bros. did not know what to do with the film, but after the grunge scene exploded, the movie was finally released. The film includes cameos from key bands from the Seattle music scene of the time, such as Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and grunge favorite Tad Doyle (lead vocalist of the Seattle bands Tad and Hog Molly). Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, and Eddie Vedder, all members of Pearl Jam, have small parts as members of Matt Dillon's character Cliff Poncier's fictional band Citizen Dick. Their parts were filmed when Pearl Jam was known as Mookie Blaylock. Most of Matt Dillon's wardrobe in the movie actually belonged to Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament. During the making of the film Ament produced a list of song titles for the fictional band, Citizen Dick. Chris Cornell (of Soundgarden and Audioslave) saw the list of Citizen Dick song titles, which would appear briefly in the film and decided to pen songs to match each title. One of those songs, "Seasons", appears on the film soundtrack. Another, "Spoonman", was later recorded by Chris Cornell's band Soundgarden. It became a hit in 1994 and can be heard in a rough version (perhaps a demo) in the film when an unseen person is posting Citizen Dick flyers. T Citizen Dick's song name "Touch Me, I'm Dick" is a word play on the song "Touch Me, I'm Sick" by the Seattle band Mudhoney. Also, in the inside cover photo of the soundtrack, there is a Citizen Dick CD with the track listing on the CD itself. One of the songs is called "Louder Than Larry (Steiner)", a wordplay on the Soundgarden album, Louder Than Love. The band name Citizen Dick is a play on the Seattle band Citizen Sane, which itself is a play on the 1941 film, Citizen Kane. Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell has a cameo as the guy who comes out to listen to a car radio. He also appears in a later scene with his band Soundgarden performing the song "Birth Ritual". The members of Alice in Chains also appear in the film as a bar band, playing the songs "It Ain't Like That" and "Would?". A year later in August 1992, a month after the film's release, "Would?" became Alice In Chains' biggest AOR hit to-date and "Singles" wins an MTV Movie Award for Best Movie Song. he Singles soundtrack was released on June 30, 1992 through Epic Records and became a best seller three months before the release of the film. The soundtrack included music from mentioned key bands from the Seattle music scene of the time, such as Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. Pearl Jam performed two previously-unreleased songs on the soundtrack: "Breath" and "State of Love and Trust". The Soundgarden song "Birth Ritual" and Chris Cornell's solo song "Seasons" appear on the soundtrack. Paul Westerberg of The Replacements contributed two songs to the soundtrack and provided the score for the film. The Smashing Pumpkins also contributed to the soundtrack with the song "Drown". Been awhile since I saw "Singles", but it was such a pleasant trip back to 1992. Crowe´s honest and natural way of directing it (for example the idea of letting several characters talk straight to the camera fits so well with the movie) in combination of the script and the magic the actors create gives such a believable feeling to the movie. The strength of the movie is of course the music and the fact that it was a backdrop to the exploding Seattle music scene, which was happening when they actually filmed the movie. In hindsight I assume Crowe is pleased that he managed to use several of the great Seattle bands before they broke and integrated them and their music so well in the movie. It´s a treat to see Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament and Eddie Vedder acting as Matt Dillon´s bandmates for example. The movie has a good balance in general, even if love and to be loved is the focal point of the movie. It feels genuine/real and you get swept away with the characters and their lives. It was a treat as well to re-see the beautiful Bridget Fonda (still have a crush on her) and I can´t help missing her. And of course you can´t forget that "Singles" had one of the best soundtracks in the 90s.