Oh, Anna Faris. I think she's great, I really do. I root for her, so I hoped that What's Your Number? was going to be a fun combination of her raunchy humor mixed with silly rom-com clichés that I may or may not secretly enjoy when I do not have to critique it in a public forum. Unfortunately -- and I really use that word strongly -- this movie was pretty terrible. An identity crisis of a movie, What's Your Number? was so sloppy and relied so heavily on archetypes, it felt like watching an infomercial -- you know the extended one for The Magic Bullet, where there's the one cranky guy who hates broccoli and then the crazy old lady smoking the cigarette? Clearly, those writers have made it to the silver screen. There were so many problems with this film, in fact, I think it'd be fun to celebrate the premise and give you a seven-item list of what went wrong.
1. It Wasn't Funny
There were moments of awkward silence, missed jokes, little-to-no improv and if you've seen the trailer, you've already seen 80 percent of the actual laughs in the film. I frankly had a better time watching ABC plug the movie in that ridiculous What's Your Number? newlywed game on Bachelor Pad. Such a waste, since I kind of love every major actor in the cast. As far the minor characters went, I could've used more Chris Pratt and Joel McHale, while Heather Burns' character was just horribly written.
2. It Tried to Be Everything
What's Your Number? is a raunchy single gal movie, a conventional rom-com, a break-up movie, a wedding movie, a flashback movie, a movie about nightmarish parents, a movie about an uninspired artist and a movie about being with the wrong person when the right one is right in front of you. Maybe these elements could have worked if the writing was tighter or the pacing was at all realized, but that wasn't the case here. For example, there would just be awkward scenes where Ally Darling (Anna Faris) and her sister Daisy (Ari Graynor) talk about how weird the latter's wedding is going to be with both of their parents (Blythe Danner and Ed Begley Jr.) in attendance, and then we hear about the parents' personalities, meet the parents, get unfunny jokes about and from the parents... now imagine that with every single one of the above elements. Yikes.
3. The Premise Was Weak
I'll sum it up for you: After reading a cheesy article in Marie Claire (product placement, much?), Ally is convinced that she has reached her limit in the number of men she can possibly sleep with without being a ruined woman, or something. There's a lot of reasons why it failed for me, including: It's 2011, and Ally's character hovers somewhere around her mid-30s -- 20 lovers in nearly 20 years of being a sexually active person isn't shocking of a number at all; Ally blows off every other article in the magazine but obsesses over the one... for some reason (and wasn't the whole "women only get x amount of chances for love" thing the basis of the "Anchors Away" episode of Sex and the City?); Ally refuses to listen to any kind of reasonable argument about double standards or natural life cycles of relationships or anything because she is so insecure. I think this premise could have worked in some capacity, but Faris is too smart of a woman for the role for any of it to have been believable.
4. The Premise Was Offensive
Okay, one more big thing on the premise (and yes, I'm a feminist, sue me): What constitutes "sex" for Ally in this movie is vaginal intercourse and nothing else. I'm surprised that there wasn't a line about Ally hooking up with a girl in college but that not counting. Or, like, a "back door" joke. I'm sure there's at least a few on a cutting room floor somewhere. What's Your Number? had the chance to be a little bit risqué and push boundaries on female sexuality... and instead it erred on the side of bland. They even made a bestiality joke boring.
5. The Quest for Exes Was Completely Downplayed
I was looking forward to meeting all of Ally's wacky exes, but that turned out being a relatively small part of the movie. In fact, you get more of Andy Samberg's character in the trailer than you do in the actual film. More time was devoted to the process of finding her 20 former lovers than actually reconnecting with them, which was such a disappointment because when you did get to see the guys, it was pretty fun. And as far as the difficulty of tracking these dudes down goes, I guess I can swallow Ally not being on Facebook, but does she have zero personal connections to mutual friends? How did she meet these people in the first place? Boston -- the film's setting, and a place I called home for a number of years -- is basically a big town. You don't exactly need private eye skills to find a few rich businessmen living in Beacon Hill.
6. It Asks Us to Suspend Disbelief Without Any Sort of Payoff
And speaking of Boston, there's a scene where Chris Evan's character, Colin (Evans, by the way, did his best to sell that part, but he was too backed into a pretty obnoxious dude-bro corner do succeed) sneaks Ally into TD Banknorth Garden for a little one-on-one basketball, something he was able to do because he used to work there and swiped a security badge. Besides the fact that we've seen this basic scenario so many times before, What's Your Number? did nothing with its Garden access except for show our co-stars in their underwear. I never thought I'd say this, but Van Wilder did it better. Overall, though, the movie did do a nice job with its Boston setting in terms of capturing the city's beauty, though you have to be crazy or pretty damn high to ever jump into the Harbor.
7. It Had an Uncomfortable Impromptu Alt-Rock Rendition of "Three Times a Lady"
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