What’s Your Number?
Release Date: September 30, 2011
Director: Mark Mylod
Writers: Gabrielle Allan & Jennifer Crittenden (screenplay), Karyn Bosnak (novel 20 Times a Lady)
Stars: Anna Faris, Chris Evans and Ari Graynor
MPAA Rating: R
In What’s Your Number? Anna Faris’ character Ally Darling is looking for the one. And despite her sincerity and dedication to the cause, it just hasn’t worked out for her. Everyone she chooses turns out to be a disappointment.
It’s a fitting metaphor for Faris’ career. I’ve always found her really charming and funny, but she hasn’t been able to find a film worthy of her talents. What’s Your Number? is one of her better films to date, but ultimately it ends up another disappointment as she continues to look for the right project.
It has a promising set up. After reading in article in Marie Claire magazine saying that 96 percent of women who have had 20 or more sexual partners can’t find love, Ally begins to panic. Since she is already at 20, she decides to go back and give her previous boyfriends another chance to see if one of them has gotten better with age. To track down her exes, she enlists the help of Colin Shea (Chris Evans), her manwhore neighbor who is happy to do it so long as he can use her apartment to hide out from the random one night stands he takes home each night.
This premise could have yielded some promising results as Ally relives train wreck relationship after train wreck relationship, but unfortunately it never really commits to the idea. Anyone who has seen the trailer for this film has basically already seen most of her reconnections with exes. The exes are a parade of humorous losers – including a puppeteer, a bad magician and a gynecologist who doesn’t recognize her face, but recognizes her vagina – but each encounter with an ex is over in a matter of minutes. And there are only a handful of exes out of the 20 that she actually seeks out.
The only former boyfriend that is actually used to great comedic result is Disgusting Donald (Chris Pratt), who is the catalyst for Ally giving all of her exes another shot. She runs into Donald by chance and discovers that he is no longer the fat loser he was when they dated and is instead now engaged to a smart, beautiful woman. Donald pops up a few other times throughout the film and each time his encounters with Ally are incredibly funny. I just wish they could have found a way to use the other exes as effectively. (When you have great comedic talents like Thomas Lennon and Andy Samberg in your film, you should find a way to give them more screen time.)
Instead of focusing on the exes, the film instead focuses on Ally’s budding relationship with Colin. This is where it devolves into every romantic comedy cliché you’ve seen countless times before. Faris and Evans have really great chemistry together, but their storyline is so incredibly predictable. Ally falls for Colin, but she doesn’t want to go over 20 sexual partners and she thinks he’s too much of a ladies man to ever be the guy she settles down with, so she’s unwilling to give him a chance.
For good measure, the film even throws in “the one that got away” – Ally’s ex who just happens to be a super successful and yet somehow still single businessman. On paper, he’s the guy Ally should be with, even though Ally has fallen for Colin. Predictable rom-com conflicts ensue.
Also, there is an entire subplot featuring Ally’s sister’s wedding. Her sister Daisy (Ari Graynor) is planning a wedding, which is mainly used as an excuse for Ally to talk with her little sis and all of the other bridesmaids about her relationship woes and to find out their number of partners. There is an unnecessary storyline involving Ally and Daisy’s mother (Blythe Danner) not wanting their father (Ed Begley Jr.) to bring his new girlfriend to the wedding, but despite all of the screen time devoted to it, the plotline never really goes anywhere interesting.
The wedding storyline also gives the film a few parallels to Bridesmaids, which I don’t think will do What’s Your Number? any favors. Both films feature a protagonist whose life is falling apart completely – including dead-end relationship to a jerk, sudden loss of her job and drunken shenanigans during bridal party gatherings. Also, Ally’s relationship with Zachary Quinto’s character at the beginning of the film is incredibly similar to Kristen Wiig’s character’s relationship with John Hamm’s character in Bridesmaids. (Including a nearly-identical scene in the beginning where Ally sneaks out of bed in the morning to put makeup on before Quinto’s character wakes up.) But Bridesmaids is all around a better written and funnier film, so reminding audiences of it is only going to accentuate the shortcomings in What’s Your Number?
Still, while What’s Your Number? is a bit disappointing, it will do in a pinch if you are simply looking for a light, mindless film to take a date to. It has a few genuinely funny moments and Faris and Evans really do have great chemistry together. Plus, you get to see both of them scantily-clad a number of times throughout the film, which means there’s a little something there for everyone.
It is far from terrible, but I hope Faris doesn’t settle for movies like this in the future. I can’t help thinking the right project is out there to properly showcase her talents. I just wonder what number of lackluster films she’ll have to go through before she finds it.
Written by Joel Murphy. If you enjoy his reviews, he also writes a weekly pop culture column called Murphy’s Law, which you can find here. You can contact Joel at firstname.lastname@example.org.