Film Review – What’s Your Number?
In all my life, I have never once asked anyone what their “number” is. This information falls under multiple categories that keep me from asking it, including: “None of My Business,” “Not Something To Judge Anyone By,” and “Honestly, Who Cares?” Beyond the unfortunate period of teenage years when it’s inevitable one will wonder whether all of their classmates’ numbers are zero or not-zero, I find it odd that anyone puts any degree of thought into this particular statistic.
It seems like Ally Darling (Anna Faris), our main character in What’s Your Number?, may have felt similarly to me at one time. Unfortunately, a flurry of things going wrong in her life coincides with both preparations for her sister’s wedding and the reading of an evil article in an evil magazine, which proclaims that most women have an average of 10 sex partners in their lives. Ally is near double that, at 19. Those who go past 20 are less likely to find true love. How the magazine calculates this, I have no idea.
Could it be that Ally’s so abnormal, so not-average? I suspect not, but her own research does reveal that her friends are at much lower numbers, and suddenly that ’19’ takes on an incredible amount of meaning for her. Then, before you know it, another “mistake” has been made, and the number jumps to 20. THE HORROR. Having hit this limit, wacky Ally does what a wacky romantic comedy heroine must do, and comes up with a scheme. With the help of the crack detective skills of her muscular neighbor Colin (Chris Evans), she’ll track down all of the dudes in question to check if one of them actually was The One. Meanwhile, she’ll help Colin with his pesky problem of getting rid of women in the morning after he’s slept with them but can’t be bothered to converse over breakfast.
Please believe me that I don’t inherently dislike a wacky set-up for a romantic comedy. I could probably recite most of While You Were Sleeping right now. What’s more wacky than a fake engagement to a guy in a coma?! But the underlying sexism of this particular set-up truly bothered me. If the film did anything to slyly comment on the double standard that women who have a good amount of sex partners are seen as sluts and men who do are seen as studs, to deliver some subversive message about that, I missed it. All chances to address the topic of social pressures faced by women with some amount of wit are wasted in favor of such cliché elements as a relentless nagging mom who worries Ally is doomed to spinsterhood.
My disdain for the plot of this film didn’t take away from my unwavering fondness for Anna Faris. It seems an accepted truth that she is funny enough and talented enough to be doing projects of a much higher caliber than she usually does. Once in a while she gets to star in something that at least tries to stand out from the crap—The House Bunny, or Smiley Face—but it’s obvious she has yet to find her Bridesmaids. Still, her presence shines even when the script doesn’t, and the laughs to be had in What’s Your Number? are mostly because of how far she is always willing to take a gag, and how charming she stays while doing it.
There are also a couple of entertaining moments with the ex-boyfriends, as she tracks each one down. The recurring bits with “Disgusting Donald,” a formerly slovenly, now hot beau played by Chris Pratt, show a glimmer of the movie that might have been. He’s an actor who, like Faris, can elevate comedy in an instant, and I’d love to see them actually star opposite each other—a feat it seems like they should be able to pull off, given that they’re married in real life. (God, I hope they have dinner parties with Amy Poehler and Will Arnett all the time.) But it was a mistake to put Chris Evans in the role of the real love interest. His charisma is incredibly overestimated in general, and he’s plain boring when you put him opposite a beautiful kook like Anna Faris.
If it is possible to spoil a romantic comedy, I am about to do so. No surprises are to be had here; the cad next door must meet his match. Colin changes his womanizing ways, for Ally. She was sitting next to The One all along, he just had to…well, change everything about the way he lives his life. And here, I will insert a warning for any single straight women reading this: never fall for this shit. Never think it’s a good sign that you’ve somehow made a guy want to stop treating women like garbage. There is a difference between a guy who’s playing the field who settles down when he meets the right woman, and the character in this film. Wanting one woman shouldn’t be the thing that makes a guy decide to treat all women as if they are human beings deserving of respect. He should already be doing that, before he’s ever met her. Or he sucks, like the asshole in this film, that they ask you to root for.
I’m tired of being asked to root for an asshole to get the girl. I’m tired of films that are fine with reveling in sexist social standards because “it’s just comedy.” I’m tired of comedy not being funny! And I’m very, very tired of a world that does not know what to do with Anna Faris.
Final Grade: D