October 4, 2011
D: Mark Mylod. DP: J. Michael Muro. W: Gabrielle Allan & Jennifer Crittenden. Starring: Anna Faris/Chris Evans/Ari Graynor/Blythe Danner/Ed Begley Jr./Heather Burns/Eliza Coupe/Kate Simses/Chris Pratt/Joel McHale/Zachary Quinto/Jake Annable/Martin Freeman. (Note: Based on Karyn Bosnak novel “20 Times a Lady.”)
In the world of romantic comedies what really works anymore? Delusional romance and unrealistic premises turn some audiences off. While realistic relationship struggles and stories sometimes are unpopular or never dealt with in a mainstream way. What do women, who are the target audience, really want to see? Is the date movie even relevant anymore?
The premise of What’s Your Number works in a way. Any mid to late 20s young woman is dealing with the endless amounts of engagement announcements and ticking time bombs that other people suggest to them. Although this is all socially and geographically dependent, it is safe to say most woman have at least thought about it. So when Ally Darling (Anna Faris) reads an article in a Marie Claire magazine that claims most women have 10.5 lovers in their lifetime, she literally freaks out. Why? Well obviously it is because her “number” is higher than that. But one would almost wish she would throw the magazine out and yell at it for lumping ALL womens’ experiences into one. Who says what number is right for one person? IT IS JUST A MAGAZINE. And so my frustration begins.
A lot can be argued about this premise and I won’t exhaust you with it, but I will say that at bare bones it is entertaining. Faris remains likable and loud in an endearing way, though she isn’t ever given a change to be funny in a non shtick or one liner way. Her Ally is a fun, crazed party girl, but pales in comparison to other females roles this year. And in true rom-com fashion her across the hall neighbor is a gorgeous struggling musician who has tremendous luck getting himself laid. Chris Evans, clearly deep into his Captain America fitness regime, is goofy and doe eyed and will probably make most women wish he was their boy next door and then roll their eyes because NO boy next door ever looks like that. The kids have good chemistry, but unfortunately What’s Your Number feels unbalanced and bumpy.
Faris and Evan’s relationship is by far the more seamless part of the film, but it is forced to be sandwiched between clunky scenes where Faris meets her ex boyfriends as she pursues them in hope she finds the right guy in them so she won’t sleep with more than 20 men. These scenes must also compete with wedding planning moments with Faris and her sister Daisy (Ari Graynor) so in the end the script feels agonizingly stop and go. Daisy’s group of friends are given random one-liners and never appear to be Faris’ friends. And Faris who loses her job at the beginning of the film appears to be completely unfazed about finding a new one.
However, it is hard to hate a movie that at least tackles a realistic dilemma in a young woman’s life. Not the idea that marriage is the next step, but rather that women are or could be worried about their sexual reputation when it comes to dating. I mean seriously whose business is that? Sorry, I digress. Obviously, there is not a right answer here. But at least What’s Your Number gives us a gal whose not a complete mess or a frustrated near virgin. Thanks Anna, now go out and get a better movie for yourself.