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What's Your Number? - Movie Review

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What's Your Number? - Movie Review

1 star

In spite of efforts to instill in our young women the notion that self-worth shouldn’t be measured by her ability to attract a husband, filmmakers continue to craft comedy from that very outmoded belief. While the romantic comedy is certainly the worst violator, in the hands of a skilled craftsman, the tool can be used to generate loads of fun and yucks while avoiding the pitfalls of offending and repulsing viewers. Unfortunately, the makers of What’s Your Number? fail to both avoid the trap and provide anything even remotely funny.

The film builds its entire premise on a seemingly innocuous Marie Claire magazine survey (another major offender of women's self-esteem) that reveals the average number of lovers women have in their lifetime is 10.5, and in America, ninety-six percent of women who’ve been with twenty or more lovers can’t find a husband. So, when recently unemployed Ally Darling (Anna Faris) gets a hold of the magazine and realizes she’s nearly double that number, the quest to track down her twenty past lovers begins with the help of the womanizing, always-shirtless neighbor Colin (Chris Evans), who just happens to come from a family of investigators. Her thought is to avoid going over the doomed number of twenty, which means any of her former lovers wouldn’t count against the grand total.  Have any of her past flames changed enough to make them worthy of marriage material?

Realizing she’s a little lost in life, Ally trudges through her identity crisis, hindered by the fact that her sister Daisy (Ari Graynor) is set to be married soon, and her mother, played by Blythe Danner, is overly judgmental and very tough on Ally. The film’s narrative, propelled both by Ally’s ex-lover quest and her sister’s wedding, plots a course of forbidden love that hopes to ingratiate with themes of self-discovery and being oneself, but only manages to alienate with disengaging characters that flounder about in a world of unrealistic romance.

It’s not too difficult to figure out where things are going, but that’s expected from a genre not known for its particularly clever twists and surprising turns. But an interesting or laugh-filled journey along the way is critical.

There was certainly nothing non-formulaic about the much-heralded Bridesmaids, but that film succeeded in being something different where this one doesn’t. And no, we’re not talking about simply peppering a romantic comedy with gratuitous potty-mouthed jokes and peek-a-boo shots of sex-tinged sight gags. Even romantic comedy audiences are more sophisticated than that. Bridesmaids succeeded by being a gutsy (and yes, sometimes even filthy) celebration of the way women REALLY interact. What’s Your Number? never pushes the envelope quite far enough (despite its R-rating), and it certainly never feels real. Director Mark Mylod, working from a script by Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden, seems all too comforted by working within the cocoon of a prescribed rom-com recipe.

Through the repeated use of flashbacks, we get a look at Ally’s past relationships. Used as a means of inserting hilarious little non-related skits, these flashbacks could have been a valuable source of comedy gold. But instead they come off as flat and peurile, with the exception of one that looks at Ally’s past relationship with an English guy (Martin Freeman) she snagged by faking a British accent. She screws it up during their latest encounter however, when he’s tipped off by her drunken accent that sways between Eliza Doolitle and a Foster’s beer commercial.

What’s Your Number‘s most significant failure unfortunately comes from the lack of an absolutely critical ingredient. An element so crucial to the romantic comedy genre that, even when all other parts misfire, can sometimes save a picture from itself. That missing element is a romantic attraction by the film’s leads, specifically Faris and Evans. Not only do we as viewers never feel either despicable character is worthy of the other’s attention, but neither actor seems to be able to pull off any amount of chemistry that makes the audience root for their romance. As a result, What’s Your Number is a standard paint-by-numbers romantic comedy that’s rarely funny and never romantic.

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What's Your Number? - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for sexual content and language.
Director: Mark Mylod
Writer
: Gabrielle Allan, Jennifer Crittenden
Cast: Anna Faris, Chris Evans, Ari Graynor; Blythe Danner; Ed Begley, Jr.; Heather Burns
Genre: Comedy | Romance
Memorable Movie Quote:
"I locked myself out of my apartment. Do you mind if I use your phone?"
Tagline:
Ally's looking for the best ex of her life.
Distributor:
20th Century Fox
Official Site:
www.whatsyournumbermovie.com
Release Date: September 30, 2011
Blu-ray Release Date:
January 10, 2012

Plot Synopsis: Anna Faris is Ally Darling, who after reading a magazine article that leads her to believe she’s going to be forever alone, begins a wild search for the best “ex” of her life.

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