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Movie Review: ‘What’s Your Number?’

September 30, 2011

You already know the premise: A jilted/disillusioned–with-love-20/30-something revisits his/her past lovers to understand why he/she can’t find love, and finally realizes that her true love has been right there all along, in one form or another.

In this case, the Disillusionee is Ally Darling (Anna Faris), a recently-fired-then-slept-with-her-boss 20/30-something who reads a magazine article that says women who’ve slept with over 20 partners tend to not find true love. Ally is at number 19. Fearful of the consequences, she makes the decision that the next new guy she sleeps with will be the guy she marries. She also decides to seek out her former boyfriends/casual hookups, hoping to reignite some of the past’s embers and hence keep her number at 19.

There’s more than a passing similarity to High Fidelity in the premise and also in the choice to have several notable comedians—Andy Samberg, Parks and Rec’s (and Faris’s real-life husband) Chris Pratt, the BBC Office’s Martin Freeman, Zachary Quinto (not so much a comedian, but hey)—and the perfect guy who’s been there all along is her next-door neighbor Colin (Captain America’s Chris Evans). All this is set against the backdrop of Ally’s sister Daisy’s (Ari Graynor) wedding. Further hijinx results from their domineering mother Ava’s (Blythe Danner) determination to have Ally marry her first boyfriend, the wealthy and well-connected Jake Adams (Brothers & Sisters’ Dave Annable, looking like the director had his heart set on Christian Bale) and their estranged, free-wheeling father Mr. Darling (Ed Begley, Jr., who’s always great in roles like these).

Like anyone with a heart, I love Anna Faris. She was introduced to the world in 2000’s Scary Movie, which had its moments, but whose legacy ended up being the most sneered-at franchise in Hollywood. Faris’s career hasn’t fared much better. Certainly she’s been the standout in films such as The Hot Chick, My Super Ex-Girlfriend (which was underrated), and Smiley Face (which was overrated), and it took a film like Observe and Report (severely underrated) to put her among the company in which she belongs, but it always feels like she deserves better than what she gets.

What’s Your Number? Lies somewhere between the lows and the highs of her career. Faris is fantastic, as always, and Evans does his best to break free of the shirtless-guitar-playing-hands-in-the-pockets-“Aw shucks”-pretty-boy to which he’s consigned (and is it just me, or does he look a lot like Nathan Fillion/Ken Marino here?), succeeding most of the time. The cameos tend to be hit or miss. Freeman doesn’t get much to work with; Samberg’s a bit too broad; but Pratt is hilarious in his few little scenes, and I hope it gets his movie career off the ground. It’s no joke to say he’s as talented as his wife.

The movie is predictable and doesn’t have a consistently funny pace or stream of laughs, but the several it scores are laugh-out-loud—a few of them very loud—and the chemistry between Evans and Faris is just fun to watch and peppered with lots of PG-13 nudity to keep you distracted.

The director, Mark Mylod, has a lot of television credits and makes good use of the movie’s Boston setting, reveling in all its landmarks but not too overcome with the city that it goes out of its way to shoot the scenery and ignore the characters. Co-screenwriter Jennifer Crittenden has previously written for Everybody Loves Raymond and Seinfeld, which makes sense given the vignette-type structure and tendency toward broader humor.

I can’t quite recommend it, but overall it’s enjoyable. At 106 minutes, it never feels overly long and can get by on Faris alone for long stretches. It’s not the best entry in the extremely talented comedienne’s filmography, but it’s pretty fun.

Rating: 3/5

What’s Your Number? Is rated R. Directed by Mark Mylod. Written by Gabrielle Allen and Jennifer Crittenden. Based on the book 20 Times a Lady by Karyn Bosnak. Starring Anna Faris, Chris Evans, Ari Graynor, Blythe Danner, Ed Begley, Jr., Chris Pratt, Zachary Quinto, Andy Samberg, Anthony Mackie, Martin Freeman, and Joel McHale.


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