‘Number’ doesn’t aim high enough for laughs
A crucial aspect of movie critiquing is realizing — and accepting — some movies are simply mediocre. Certain movies just aren’t memorable. It’s not to say they’re awful or not worth seeing, just that they are nothing special. This weekend’s new rom-com “What’s Your Number?” falls neatly into this category. Its biggest accomplishment is the continuation of the smutty chick flick, heralded by 2011’s surprise hit, “Bridesmaids.”
“What’s Your Number?” stars the oft-underused Anna Faris (“Scary Movie”) as Ally Darling, an unemployed 30-something city girl constantly dropping genital jokes while awkwardly navigating through her slow-moving life.
After reading a Marie Claire survey regarding the direct correlation being the number of intimate lovers a woman has and the ability to find a husband, Ally worries her free-wheeling ways will leave her unattractive to the “one.” After comparing notes with her friends, she’s shocked to learn she has marked the most notches in her belt: 19. The survey’s dreaded number: 20. (Because Marie Claire is know for its scientific integrity.)
Determined to trace her steps and find Mr. Right in her previous encounters, Ally enlists the help of her hunky, roguish next-door neighbor, Colin Shea (Chris Evans, “Captain America”), to aid her in tracking down her long-ago beaus through whatever means possible. (Facebook has never been so disturbing.) Whether through psychosis or because of the copious amount of liquor flowing through her system at any given moment, she believes one of her previous 19 lovers will propose and rescue her from striking out at 20. By agreeing to help her, Ally allows Colin, a struggling musician, to slink away from the mornings after his one-night stands until they have left his apartment.
Despite some cleverly placed jokes and one-liners, “Number” is underdeveloped and choppy. A strong and raunchy start quickly fizzles into shameless chick-flick sensibility. The bare-strings plot suffers even further from an unsurprising sequence of events and a finale you could see coming from the moon. And everyone from previous boyfriends to Ally’s ridiculous friends wax idiotic. It gets a bit gritty.
Even so, Faris still is a riot, showing off her comedic timing and stunning the audience with the quips that seamlessly flow from her mouth. She’s zany and quirky, a tour de force who’s able to drag even Evans’ womanizing character along with her. And though her life is near shambles, Ally’s effervescent personality continues to propel her along, one insane adventure after another.
“What’s Your Number?” was adapted for the screen by Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden and is directed by Mark Mylod. The movie is based on Karyn Bosnak’s 2006 novel, “20 Times a Lady” (which might explain Ally’s strange fascination for Lionel Richie songs). With its adult themes, you would think it would have been more crass, but the movie settles into the doldrums far too quickly. Because, as what always happens in real life, Ally gets to decide between not just one but two desirable men.
A major subplot involves the coming wedding of Ally’s younger, more ladylike sister, Daisy (Ari Graynor), to yet another good-looking guy (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), and the never-ending disapproval radiating from her Ally’s mother, Ava (Blythe Danner), regarding her wayward behavior. Then there are her hilarious exes, some more interesting than others. There may be a puppeteer who introduces some … character … into the bedroom.
In the end, Faris doesn’t get pushed far enough, she and Evans don’t appear together enough (there’s plenty of comedic chemistry there) and there’s not enough raunchy comedy for a movie that explicitly follows in the footsteps of “Bridesmaids.” If it makes you feel better, both Faris and Evans are half-naked for the better part of the movie. Enjoy.
Two mismatched sexy stars out of five.