What’s Your Number?

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Robin Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Robin Clifford 
What’s Your Number?
Laura Clifford of Reeling Reviews
Laura Clifford 

Ally Darling (Anna Faris) has had a long string of relationships but has never found Mr. Right. But, when she reads a magazine article that says, if you have not met your man after 20 boyfriends, you probably missed out, she is afraid she did miss her love boat. Ally decides to reexamine her past beaus to see if she dumped the wrong guy in “What’s Your Number?”

I have liked Anna Faris in everything I have seen over the years, so I had some hope for “What’s Your Number?” and, while the movie is OK, Faris stays in my plus column. The story, adapted from the Karyn Bosnak novel, 20 Times a Lady, by Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden, is wrought with clichés and is predictable from the moment we see Ally and Colin (Chris Evans), her hunky, across-the-hall neighbor together. We know exactly how things are going to end so, suffice it to say, once Ally makes the decision, having hit the magic number of 20 and asking for Colin’s help in finding them all, you know where this is going.

The draw to “What’s Your Number?” is the terrific chemistry between Faris and Evans. Their screen time together is relaxed and fun and, when Ally goes off to find her Mr. Right, the wind goes out of the sails. Fortunately, the bulk of the film pairs Ally and Colin so their screen time makes the film raise things a notch. Supporting cast has Ari Graynor as Ally’s younger, getting married sister Daisy, Blythe Danner as their mom, divorced from their dad (Ed Begley Jr.) and the wedding planning, preparation and delivery make for an amusing side story. The rest of the cast are little more than placeholders, particularly the 20 exes which includes Faris’s real life husband Chris Pratt, Dave Annable and Anthony Mackey.

This could have been a mediocre rom-com if not for its stars. Chemistry does help to make a movie better than it should be and this is the case for “What’s Your Number?” It takes 10 minutes too long to resolve something you know is going to happen. Some judicious editing could have made a better movie. Still, I give it a fresh C+.

In one morning, Ally Darling (Anna Faris, "The House Bunny") discovers her latest boyfriend (Zachary Quinto, "Star Trek") isn't relationship material and that she is being laid off from her marketing position.  On her way home, she reads an article in a woman's magazine that states the average woman has had 10.5 lovers and that anyone who reaches 20 is unlikely to ever get married.  That night out partying after her younger sister Daisy's (Ari Graynor, "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist") engagement party, Ally's outed as having had 19 sexual relationships when she gets the girls to play "What's Your Number?"

This latest predictable rom-com has 1.5 things going for it - extremely likable and harmonious leads in Faris and Chris "Captain America" Evans, and, for those familiar with Boston, lots of great locations (shown with geographical accuracy!).  In fact, watching "What's Your Number?" is kind of like experiencing Boston's Restaurant Week.

When Ally awakens from her latest debauched evening, she's horrified to find the boss who just fired her (Joel McHale, TV's 'Community') sharing her bed and even more horrified to learn the nature of his odd finger-sniffing habit which she'd been justifying to coworkers.  Her neighbor across the hall, Colin (Evans), helps her get rid of the guy, but turns out he has an agenda of his own - ditching the one night stand who's still in his apartment.  Obviously, Colin isn't marriage material, but he turns out to be very useful, good at 'digging up dirt.'  Later that afternoon, Ally's helping Daisy taste cake samples when she runs into Disgusting Donald (Faris's husband, Chris Pratt, "Moneyball"), a 400 lb. ex who has slimmed down for a new appraisal.  Turns out he's engaged, but Ally realizes that if she doesn't wish to bed the dreaded 20th, maybe her answer lies in revisiting her exes.  Colin quickly rules a few out and finds Dave Hansen (Mike Vogel, "The Help"), but Ally's turned off when she finds the magician up to his literal old tricks.

It doesn't take a genius to see where this is all ended, of course.  Ally and Colin are an obvious match, he impressed and supportive of her hobby of creating 'freaky little sculptures,' her openly hedonistic wackiness charming.  But we must check off each point of Gabrielle Allan (TV's 'Scrubs') & Jennifer Crittenden's (TV's 'The New Adventures of Old Christine') adaptation of Karyn Bosnak's novel "20 Times a Lady" so our heroine can be humiliated in one encounter after another (a rusty fake British accent for "Shaun of the Dead's" Martin Freeman, no recognition from "17 Again's" Thomas Lennon's gynecologist until the exam begins, etc.) There are some laughs along the way (SNL's Andy Samberg's lovemaking as Gerry Perry the puppeteer, Faris 'going all Borat') until we hit the 'big obstacle' - the perfect ex in Jake Adams (Dave Annable, TV's 'Brothers & Sisters'), a handsome but humorless do-gooder whose dad owns half the city (so why's he still available for an old high school flame???).  The conflict between Ally's divorced parents at Daisy's wedding is handled better than these type of things usually are, undoubtedly aided by the high caliber cast (dad, played by Ed Begley Jr., recognizes himself in his daughter and so offers sage advice regarding her relationship with her mom), but again, most of the climax is either obvious or unrealistic (a wedding planner with a list of 'every wedding in the city' for the day?).

Faris is still in need of that role that will equal her talent and even as producer of her own material, she can't seem to quite find it.  She and Evans are fun to watch together, but a one-on-one game of strip basketball in an empty Boston Garden isn't the way to progress their characters.  Still, as far as romantic comedies go, you'll be a lot better off betting on Faris than most of her peers.

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