Over-used plot and mindless cheap laughs, but hey, sometimes that’s just what the Doctor prescribed.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who secretly likes cheesy romantic comedies –though I have significantly outed myself by admitting as much. There is just something so damned addicting about the genre. The protagonist pulling at our heart-strings by revealing legitimate flaws and real human qualities that allow us to live vicariously through their quest for love by our ability to relate to them, ultimately, to find a glorious and deserved happy ending. As a viewer, we’re all too happy in the end. Our hearts are warmed in spite of the fact that we’ve just sheepishly conformed to the film’s simple expectations; we go home and hug our pillows feeling optimistic about the future, etc. Romantic comedies have their pros though originality and depth definitely are not some of them.
What’s Your Number? is Anna Faris’ contribution to this year’s blitz of never-ending chick-flicks. While the film does justice in its job as a romantic comedy, it definitely is no prized horse. Watch it for the laughs – that Faris is known to deliver – and the guaranteed warm heart, but expect no miracles or shocking twists out of this all-too-familiar plot.
In the film, Faris plays Ally Darling, a thirty-something professional woman in the midst of a relationship “crisis.” After a recent break-up, Ally reads a Cosmopolitan-esque magazine article that explains how a woman who has an excess of 20 sexual partners is likely to be single forever. Ally dutifully counts her number and realizes that she is at 19. As the tagline of the movie so poignantly (and I mean poignant in the sense that it literally sums up the whole movie) suggests, Ally – in fear of sleeping with another lemon and winding up an old unmarried cat-lady -retreats into her past “looking for the best ex of her life.” She rationalizes that if she can’t risk sleeping with any new men then maybe one of her exes, over time, has changed for the better.
The bulk of the film’s giggles originate from a train-wreck of encounters as Ally rediscovers her past lovers. With the help of her promiscuous neighbor Colin (Chris Evans, and yes, there was some definite unrecognized double standards going on there), Ally thoroughly scrolls through the list looking for “the one,” or the “once again.” The exes include an amusing collection of cameos including Andy Samberg as a sweaty, sociopathic puppeteer, Chris Pratt (Faris’ real-life husband) as a former fatty, and Martin Freeman, as Ally’s charming British ex.
The film explores so many opportunities for Faris to showcase that chicks can be funny too; a popular proclamation in recent comedies (see Bridesmaids). There are several moments where Faris shines with the goofy, awkward humour that has rendered her one of the funnier comediennes today, much in the same vein as Kristin Wiig. Faris shows that she is completely capable of pulling off what I like to call “the long joke.” You know the ones; those jokes where they go on and on and on for just the perfect amount of “way too long” before it gets too weird, too awkward, or old.
A shining example of Faris pulling off the long joke in the film is when she reconnects with her British ex, Simon (Freeman). Within moments we realize that Ally had previously spent their entire relationship feigning a British accent, oh dear. Over the course of the night, as Ally’s first re-date jitters are soothed by alcohol, we hear her voice deteriorate from a posh classic Brit, to a Cockney and eventually, somehow, to full on Borat.
All laughs aside, the overall storyline of Whats Your Number? is far too overcooked and that is such a cryin’ shame. The plot tasted palpably similar to Matthew McConaughhey’s 2009 flick Ghosts of Girlfriends Past or basically mirrors any “easily tied together in the end” movie (every rom com ever). Furthermore, there are some very poorly veiled gender issues going on that suggest that men are free to be as promiscuous as their heart desires with no penalty, yet women are ready for the garbage heap after 20 sexual partners. The film revolves around this difficult idea yet never actually acknowledges it. Maybe that’s a good thing? Maybe we’d be even less appeased as an audience if the film acknowledged it poorly and summed up the issue way to easily? But hey, What’s Your Number? is not meant to be deep; it was not intended to solve social issues and acknowledging that allows you to enjoy this flick for what it is: a simple, mindless delight.
My Rating: 6.5/10