If you are considering seeing What’s Your Number chances are you are a fan of Anna Faris and have long thought she is one of the best comedic actresses working today, as well as one of the most underrated. Me too! You’re probably also thrilled that with What’s Your Number, she finally gets the chance to shine in a rom-com heroine role that would usually go to someone like Kate Hudson. Me too! And you’re probably hoping the movie is worthy of her talent and in line with some of the better women-fronted comedies of recent memory. Me too!
Faris stars as Ally Darling (I know, already a red-flag. That has to be the most rom-com heroine name in the history of rom-coms), a young woman who seems to have a lot going for her, except of course, she is unlucky in love. Her most recent hook-up bails as soon as she invites him to be her date for her sister’s upcoming wedding (“Are your parents going to be there?” he asks). To
add icing to her morning, she then shows up to work and gets laid off by her creepy finger-sniffing boss (Joel McHale, in a hilarious, ass-baring performance). On the subway ride home, she comes across an article in a magazine that states that scientific research has discovered that women that have over 20 lovers are less likely to get married than women with a lower number. Ally panics and does the only logical thing: She laughs off the article since it was obviously based on research done in 1955 and looks for another job.
Of course she doesn’t do that! Instead, she decides that she will not go over the Old Maid number of twenty and track down all of her ex-lovers to see if perhaps any of them have changed over time and are actually now her one true love. To help her with this task, she enlists her hot, often-naked, man-whore neighbor (Chris Evans), who conveniently has experience in detective work. The two spend a lot of time together locating Ally’s exes, but they’ll never get together because he’s a commitment-phobe and she can’t go over her number, right?
These two would never get together.
Anna Faris makes pretty much any movie at at least tolerable (Could you imagine The House Bunny starring Katherine Heigl?). She’s fun to watch and manages to make a lot of the unfunny jokes either work or almost work. Her chemistry with Chris Evans is unforced and believable, as are her scenes with Ari Graynor as her sister.
The movie breezes by at a pretty good pace as each ex is located (though we only see about half of them) and hits each standard romantic comedy arc at the appropriate clock mark, but there are some funny bits and sweet moments buried in the predictability.
I realize I’m using the term “rom-com” an awful lot here. But that’s exactly what it is, and in more of a 27 Dresses way than a Bridesmaids way, except for a couple scenes that seem straight out ripped off from Bridesmaids (you’ll know them when you see them). There are also scenes reminiscent of other movies, such as Runaway Bride, The Ugly Truth, Someone Like You, What Happens In Vegas, the aforementioned 27 Dresses, that Lifetime movie called Lucky 7 (don’t act like you didn’t see it), etc, etc,etc.
To be fair, there are only so many contrived, wacky predicaments one can get into on the quest for that ever-elusive true love and only so many ways to embarrass oneself in a public setting when declaring that love once found.
(I should note that there is one bright shining meta moment when Ally realizes that her frantic bike-jacking race to get to that special someone was unnecessary- the film could have used more moments like it.)
About that whole slut-shaming premise… I was shocked to learn this film was written by women. Besides the fact that a single-woman in her thirties having twenty sexual partners hardly qualifies her as promiscuous, no mention is ever made of the double-standard regarding a man’s number of partners. There’s even a “hehe, oh you dog” joke about a male character’s very, very high number (in the hundreds!) of bedpost notches. What could have been a great opportunity to cleverly and humorously examine the biased perception of women, men, and their numbers is completely wasted.
Where’s Samantha Jones when we need her?
The best parts of the movie are the flashbacks and reunions with Ally’s exes, but as I mentioned earlier, we don’t get to see many of them. In fact, the entire scene with Andy Samberg’s ventriloquist character shown in the trailer is not even in the movie at all (he is shown in a cringe-inducing flashback). Again, wasted opportunities for funny moments and unexpected cameos. A montage or a few brief clips in the ending credits could have been added without affecting the overall running time. I sure would have gladly exchanged either for the overlong strip basketball game set to the fucking Black Eyed Peas.
It’s not the worst romantic comedy ever made, thanks to decent performances, notably Anna Faris and Chris Evans, but it’s certainly not the best. Hopefully someday there will be a smart and funny starring role worthy of Faris as this certainly isn’t it. Wait for it on cable.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever Chris Evans gets naked
Take a Drink: whenever you see anyone’s bare ass
Take a Drink: whenever Ally either refers to herself as a slut, whore, etc.
Take a Drink: when we meet Ally’s token black ex (he’s token something else too – Two for the price of one!)
Take a Drink: whenever Ally destroys a dress
Take a Drink: at every flashback scene
Take a Drink: whenever there’s a close-up on Ally’s creepy little sculptures
Last call: There should have been. Maybe there was. I waited two songs into the credits and didn’t see any so I’m assuming there aren’t any.