PLOT – Ally Darling (Anna Faris) is realizing she’s a little lost in life. Her latest romance has just fizzled out, and she’s just been fired from her marketing job. Then, she reads an eye-opening magazine article that warns that 96 percent of women who’ve been with 20 or more lovers are unlikely to find a husband. Determined to turn her life around and prove the article wrong, Ally embarks on a mission to find the perfect mate from among her numerous ex-boyfriends.
STARRING – Anna Faris, Chris Evans, Ari Graynor, Blythe Danner, Ed Begley Jr., Dave Annable, Zachary Quinto.
Director – Mark Mylod
How many men have you slept with? Such an interesting question. My number is zero. You see, the only penis I’m comfortable dealing with is my own. Not that the number of women I’ve slept with is all that higher. I’ll save all our blushes and omit the figure.
What’s Your Number introduces us to Ally (Faris), a thirty-something who works in marketing and for whom the number of sexual partners she has had becomes the basis of a quest to find her true love. When Ally reads an article in a magazine that says the average number of sexual partners a woman has in her lifetime is 10.5, she starts to list all of her former lovers and to her embarrassment she finds that she has had 19 partners and none of them have come close to being ‘the one’.
With that in mind, she makes a promise. She will not sleep with her 20th partner until she is absolutely certain that he is Mr. Right. But Ally being Ally, she gets drunk that very night and sleeps with her boss. Having hit her 20th partner, Ally now decides that the only way to fulfil her promise to herself is to reexamine her 20 ex-boyfriends to see if one of them was her true love. She’ll then reignite the flame with Mr. Right and thereby keep her number of sexual partners at 20.
For this quest she enlists the help of her deadbeat neighbour Colin (Evans), a jobbing musician and total poon-hound who relies on Ally to help him evade the myriad one night stands he ploughs his way through. But the quest is not an easy one and Ally and Colin soon come to realise that true love will rear it’s ugly head in the least likely of places.
So, where to begin (he said, as he loaded both barrels)? Words cannot describe how bad this movie is. I wanted to leave the screening after half an hour and I resented having to watch it, so I have to be careful not to sink into vitriol. I’ll try to give it as fair a shake as I can muster.
Let’s start with the story. Ally works in marketing, she hates her job, can’t hold onto a boyfriend (she’s always the dumpee, never the dumper) and is generally at a loss as to what to do with her life. She is absolutely convinced that the key to her happiness is finding a man. Now, I don’t consider myself a feminist but I certainly don’t think that this is a message that’s relevant in the 21st century. I’m losing respect for the heroine after barely 15 minutes of the movie.
It gets worse. When she comes up with her cockamamie plan to find herself a husband, any shred of respect I had for her disappears (She obviously has no self respect so why should I respect her?). And to make matters worse, she bases her big choice on an article in a glossy magazine. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who makes life changing decisions based on a Vanity Fair quiz deserves everything they get.
After the opening scenes, when Ally has begun her quest, the movie settles comfortably into a series of well worn, rom-com cliches. So familiar was most of it that I counted a half dozen instances where I was able to guess what happened next – right down to the dialogue. Throw in a cringeworthy scene at the TD Gardens in Boston and the narrative somehow becomes both predictable and nonsensical.
Now, let’s look at the script. Personally, I enjoy toilet humour, so I never thought I would find a movie that relied so heavily on it that it made me – of all people – roll my eyes. The script is just a series of (poor) gags about penises, vaginas, anal sex, smelly fingers and bestiality. Vulgarity is used best when it’s used sparingly and it takes you by surprise. After half an hour of the toilet humour in What’s Your Number? nothing surprised me. It felt like someone was farting in my face for the entire runtime.
So surely the characters can bring some redemption to this sorry excuse for a movie? Sadly, no. Not only did I have no respect for the heroine, I also found myself really disliking her. She is a shallow, vain, vacuous brat. Her number one choice of ex-boyfriends to stalk is the richest. She judges most of the men in the movie primarily on social status, then appearance, then. . . well, that’s it, actually. Did I mention she stalks 20 men? Yes, that’s how she goes about finding her husband to be. She commissions a man she barely knows to dig up personal information about 20 men she previously had relationships with. And then has the gall to lament the fact that they dumped her crazy ass.
Evans is little better as Colin, the odious man-slut from across the hall. He fucks a different woman every night an then relies on Ally to help him weasel out of having to deal with them. When he and Ally concoct their plan to find her a mate, it’s plainly obvious that he wants to get into her knickers and he regularly says as much. For her part, she does nothing to discourage him, walking around all day with her ass hanging out. Am I really expected to like these people?
I can’t really fault the technical aspects of the movie. There is no flair, no imagination, nothing interesting about them. They’re hardly noticable and I’m thankful for that much at least. The editing was a little dodgy at times but apart from that, Mylod just lets the action play out without getting too involved.
But ultimately, poor acting, poor script, awful characters and a premise that left me shaking my head in disbelief means that What’s Your Number? should be avoided at all costs. But the worst thing about this movie is that it takes the audience for fools. Women are not as vapid as Ally’s character would suggest and men aren’t as repulsive as Colin. To ask us to believe that these two abominations could and should get together and have a healthy relationship is a bridge too far. Hollywood must do better.
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