Genre: Romance/Comedy Director: Mark Mylod Cast: Anna Faris, Chris Evans, Joel McHale, Zachary Quinto, Dave Annable, Andy Samberg, Ari Graynor, Chris Pratt, Ivana Milicevic, Eliza Coupe, Mike Vogel, Martin Freeman, Aziz Ansari, Thomas Lennon RunTime: 1 hr 46 mins Released By: 20th Century Fox Rating: M18 (Sexual Scene and Some Coarse Language) Official Website: http://www.whatsyournumbermovie.com/
Opening Day: 13 October 2011
Synopsis: Anna Faris is Ally Darling, who after reading a magazine article that leads her to believe she's going to be forever alone, begins a wild search for the best "ex" of her life. Ally's hunky new neighbor Colin (Chris Evans) helps her track down her exes, in exchange for Ally helping Colin avoid his.
These days, it’s not enough for a rom-com to be plain romantic or funny- instead, there’s gotta be raunch somewhere in there. And so following in the footsteps of this summer’s ‘Bridesmaids’ is the equally racy chick flick ‘What’s Your Number’, starring the very adorable Anna Faris and the very swoon-worthy Chris Evans. The comparison is inevitable, given that its opening scene- which sees Faris’ hopping out of bed to primp herself before her boyfriend Rick (Zachary Quinto) wakes- recalls a similar moment between ‘Bridesmaids’ Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm.
But the similarities end there- whereas ‘Bridesmaids’ was a breath of inspired hilarity, Mark Mylod’s ‘What’s Your Number’ is only sporadically funny, resorting to crude jokes about penises, vaginas and sex almost desperately to try to get some reaction out of its audience. And because it is never quite as amusing as it should be, it also wastes the sharp comedic talents and the lively chemistry between Faris and Evans, both of whom deserve much better than the slipshod sitcom material on display here.
Adapted from Karyn Bosnak’s 2006 novel “20 Times a Lady” (in reference to Lionel Ritchie’s ‘Three Times a Lady’), it is premised on a free-spirited girl Ally Darling (Faris) who panics when she reads an article in Marie Claire that most women who have slept with more than 20 men are likely to stay single. Ally is already at 19, and after she inadvertently sleeps with the boss who has just fired her (Joel McHale) following a drunken night out, she resolves to stay celibate until she finds the man of her dreams. Rather than start afresh, Ally also decides to go through the list of her ex-es, hoping to find Mr. Right somewhere in there.
As formula would dictate, Ally would just happen to live across from a caddish commitment-phobic hottie Colin (Evans) with a heart of gold. In exchange for hiding out at her apartment while his one-night stands find their way out of his apartment, Colin agrees to track down her ex-es in order of eligibility. At least for the first half of the movie, frequent sitcom writers Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden subject Ally to a laundry list of former boyfriends- including Chris Pratt (of ‘Parks and Recreation’) as a now-slim soon-to-be-married man, Andy Samberg as a nerdy puppeteer and Anthony Mackie as a gay politician- but none of these vignettes- sans Ally’s accented encounter with a British guy (Martin Freeman)- prove to be particularly clever.
Mylod’s direction also offers little help- a seasoned veteran of TV sitcoms such as HBO’s ‘Entourage’, he assembles each scene with the same loose hand that allows his actors to play out the material as naturally as possible. Such a technique requires solid material, which unfortunately this film possesses little of- and the result are dull sequences which lack punch-lines and outstay their welcome. As if aware that their ‘reunion with the ex-es’ premise is fast running out of steam, Allan and Crittenden change tack in the second half of the movie by placing the subplot of Ally’s sister Daisy’s (Ari Graynor) marriage front and centre.
Gone is the search for Mr. Right- Ally instead spends her time unknowingly falling in love with Colin while playing strip basketball and indulging in her stick figurine hobby. And just when you think that Ally and Colin are headed for that happy ending, the filmmakers decide to deny you that pleasure for a little while longer by throwing in a rich, handsome and very available ex in the form of Dave Annable. Add to that some motherly expectation by ‘Meet the Parents’ veteran Blythe Danner of what an ideal husband should be, and you have your obligatory complication that will eventually untangle itself predictably on Daisy’s wedding day.
Originality is often too much to ask of Hollywood rom-coms, but this supposedly contemporary take on romance turns out to be a cop-out when all that dirty talk about one-night stands and casual sex amounts to a denouement too typical of shamelessly sentimental chick-flicks. If there is still an undeniable sweetness to it, Faris and Evans are the very reason to its existence. Faris’ vivaciousness shines through the tedium of the movie, complemented nicely by Evans’ laid-back charm. Both Faris and Evans also boast great sex appeal, and the fact that they spend a considerable amount of time half-naked doesn’t hurt too.
But as much as Faris and Evans are enjoyable to spend time with, one can’t quite shake off the feeling that their combined star wattage is wasted in a by-the-numbers rom-com. Most of the jokes that don’t involve sex fall flat, and those that do tend to think being filthy is the same as being funny. Neither is the timing of this movie in its favour- arriving after a much sharper, wittier and more amusing ‘Bridesmaids’, this raunch-com is also not nearly as fresh as it thinks it is. If you’re in the mood for Hollywood fluff, this is probably as serviceable as it gets- but everyone else need not bother.
(Trying- but failing- to be the next raunchy chick flick a la ‘Bridesmaids’, this rom-com is watchable only for its appealing leads)