REVIEW: Anna Faris Draws the Short Straw in What's Your Number?

Movieline Score:

There are hundreds of reasons we should welcome the new trend of movies featuring women who aren't afraid to admit they enjoy sex and who use language that isn't always granny-approved. In theory, the Georgia O'Keefe-like flowering of the genre should speak of a newfound freedom in how we think and talk about women's sexuality. There's just one problem: The movies are crap.

And more often than not, they're filled with women who worry more about what others think of them rather than less. That was true of the allegedly groundbreaking (and extremely popular) Bridesmaids. But the tendency is even more pronounced, and more egregious, in What's Your Number?, in which Anna Faris plays a twentysomething who totes up the number of guys she's slept with (19) and realizes it's nearly twice the alleged average, as reported in Marie Claire magazine. She vows that the next guy she sleeps with will be the one, and she won't have to worry about feeling slutty any longer.

As distasteful as that premise is, you could probably do something with it, and early in What's Your Number?, director Mark Mylod -- who has directed largely for television (Shameless, Entourage) and has made a handful of features like Ali G Indahouse and The Big White -- peppers us with a montage of ridiculous women's mag headlines, stuff about changing yourself to make men like you more, not that there's anything wrong with the way you are, mind you. That suggests at least a glancing awareness of the way young, single women are groomed to think there's something wrong with them if they can't attract Mr. Right. But in the end -- actually, well before the end -- What's Your Number?, instead of refuting such idiocy, plays like a movie ripped from the pages of one of those magazines: What if I've slept with too many guys? What if nobody wants me because I've slept around too much? My sister is getting married, but I'm not! Waaaaaaah!

What's Your Number? does pay feeble lip service to the double standard that it's OK for guys to sleep with anyone they want, while women must somehow maintain the illusion of purity and inexperience. But the vibrations of insecurity radiating from Faris's character, who bears the unscrupulously cute name Ally Darling, are almost too much to bear. It doesn't matter that Faris is in on the joke -- it still steamrolls over her. As the movie opens, Ally is ditching one of the guys who keep drifting into her life without committing -- this time, it's a green-obsessed biker dude played by Zachary Quinto, who rolls out of her bed and out the door with barely a shrug. This isn't what Ally wants, understandably, and it doesn't help that her older sister, Daisy (the wonderful Ari Graynor, who has a knack for being both kittenish and deadpan, though she has little to do here), is obsessed with her upcoming nuptials. The pair's uptight mom, played by Blythe Danner, hovers nearby, expressing consistent disappointment and displeasure with her younger daughter, while beaming at the older.

After a chance encounter with a formerly tubby but now slimmed-down ex, Ally becomes convinced that some of her former beaus may have improved with age. Luckily, her across-the-hall neighbor, a cutie with commitment issues of his own -- his name is Colin, and he's played by an unfettered, ridiculously appealing Chris Evans -- has the know-how to track people down out of nowhere. And so he and Ally begin riffling through her past to secure her future.

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  • snideproject says:

    I blame Liz Lemon. Seriously-- the best female comedic role model we've got right now is (yet another) pathetic hand-wringer with low self esteem.

  • Tommy Marx says:

    I started reading this review because I was interested in what Stephanie has to say. But then I noticed it was continued on to a second page (because the internets can't handle more than five paragraphs on one page) and I stopped. I understand that MovieLine wants to push as many possible ads on people as possible because that's how it continues to exist, but seriously, pushing a movie review on to a second page?

  • Ben says:

    I take exception to the idea that movies where women behave in ways that would have guys labelled as sexist assholes are thought of as progress. If mere equality were the point, then we could solve the problem of inequality for the handicapped by cutting off the legs of the fully abled. The point is not just to be equal. It's for everyone to do better. Often I feel like these female sex comedies are indulging in another kind of sexism, because they seem to saying that for women, and female sexuality, to be portrayed in a realistic way then they have to be shown to act exactly like men. And not the cool men either. The shitty ones, who we're all so busy trying to ignore.

  • glebe says:

    Ari Graynor plays Anna Faris's OLDER sister? Do they make her look older with makeup or something?

  • Mike the Movie Tyke says:

    A recent New Yorker article profiled Anna and talked a lot about this movie, how producers insisted it include a "gross out" scene and how her "team" wants it to be the film that pushes her onto the A list. Really? A silly premise similar to some low-budget '80s movie is going to win the hearts of America? I like you, Anna, but I think you need a new "team."

  • Mike says:

    BRIDESMAIDS was great. The best comedy of the year and one of the best movies of the year. I think this looks "cute" but Anna deserves better. She's a very talented comedic actress. I've been waiting for her to find a great role to showcase her talents for years.

  • Ben says:

    No way, man. It was awful. Lazy, thrown together, and badly improvised.

  • that gurl says:

    Faris is great in The House Bunny. She needs better vehicles, and should demand them from her team.
    Movieliners - is this a sink or swim Idea? Body switching film starring Anna Faris and Melissa McCarthy....GO!