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Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington

Wilmington on Movies: What’s Your Number?


What’s Your Number? (One Star)

U.S.: Mark Mylod, 2011

When an Anna Faris movie is so bad it makes you yearn for the good old days of Scary Movie 2, you know you’re in trouble. What’s Your Number?, a Faris rom-com of flabbergasting silliness and an awful smirking cheeriness that sets your teeth on edge, had me nostalgic for Take Me Home Tonight and Yogi Bear. And I hated Take Me Home Tonight and Yogi Bear. Faris is a very good comedienne, with  lot of blonde, amusingly pseudo-blowzy charm, but she sometimes makes bad movies, and this is one of them.  

The star plays Ally Darling, who’s at the wedding preparations of her sister Daisy Darling (Ari Graynor), where the gals talk as dirty, but not as funny, as the ones in Bridesmaids. In the midst of all the pre-nuptials brouhaha Ally learns of an article by some stupid pseudo-expert, spouting pseudo-statistics, claiming that women who’ve slept with 20 or more partners, have only a 4 % chance of getting married. (Or maybe it was a 96% chance of getting not married.)

After reading this ridiculous article, Ally becomes quietly hysterical, since she‘s slept with 19 men (at different times, of course) and, foolishly trusting this pseudo-expert, she decides that if she sleeps with one more guy, in the hopes of getting married, she won’t be able to marry anyone, because she’ll see her chances of marriage drop to 4%. (Or maybe see her chances of non-marriage soar to 96%.)

Why the moviemakers didn’t just make Ally superstitious and haul in a tarot card reader to say 20 or whatever lovers was a no-no, I have no idea, unless the notion of the 19 sex partner limit comes from the movie’s source bookl, 20 Times a Lady by Katryn Bosnak. (In honor of the song “Three Times a Lady,” What’s Your Number? sports a lot of Lionel Richie music.) So, while the wedding prep rages on, Ally tries to find those other 19 lovers, to see if one of them is plausible hubby-stuff.

As you might guess, most of the old flames are deeply flawed groom material, including the aptly named Disgusting Donald — played by Chris Pratt, who, in real life, is Anna Faris‘s husband. And while Ally races around nixing her exes, the movie supplies a possible alternate leading man. Her across-the-hall apartment neighbor is a randy, studly musician named Colin Shea (played by Chris Evans), enlists Ally‘s aid, by using her apartment as a hideout when he wants to get rid of his lovers.

Simultaneously, Colin flirts with Ally, and prances around without his shirt, without his pants and sometimes without anything but a convenient screen blip. Incredibly, since Faris is the star here, and you’d think she had priority, the filmmakers — including director Mark Mylod and writers Jennifer Crittenden and Gabrielle Allan —  seem to seize any excuse they can find to get Evans out of his clothes — making not only an idiot out of him, but a naked idiot as well. Their nuttiest inspiration: a game of Strip Horse, played in a mysteriously deserted basketball stadium, a variation on the old schoolyard shooting game that Ally mysteriously starts winning, mysteriously demonstrating trick shooting skills worthy of a Harlem Globetrotter.

What’s Your Number? eventually exposes its serious side. And like most of the bad cutesy rom-coms these days (maybe, in honor of their cutesiness, we should call them rommie-commies), that side is a testimonial to true romance. Eventually Colin puts on his pants and a serious expression and begins confessing his love for Ally, as well as his devotion to Lionel Richie’s songs. Unhappily, another leading man has shown up: Dave Annable as Jake Adams,  the favorite of Ally‘s mother‘s Ava (Blythe Danner), with Jake looking appallingly like a young Mitt Romney. Also appalling: one of Ally‘s other flawed ex-lovers is Anthony Mackie as Tom Piper, whom we see in a college flashback, passing out George Bush leaflets, and who now wants to marry Ally, so she can serve as his beard, while he becomes the first gay black Republican president.

By now, not even Mel Brooks and the entire original movie cast of The Producers singing “Springtime for Hitler” (in the nude) could save this movie. But the moviemakers try to redeem themselves anyway, by exploiting memories of The Graduate: having Ally suddenly dash off from her sister’s wedding, on a Dustin Hoffman-ish race-all-around-town to find the other wedding at which Colin is playing somewhere. I won’t tell you whether Colin shows up, but I will tell you that Daisy’s wedding is crashed at the last minute by Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, leading the entire cast of Bridesmaids, followed by Wilson, Vaughn and Will Ferrell, singing the new Mel Brooks/Lionel Richie smash Three Times a Hitler, nude. (Joke.)

I don’t blame Anna Faris for any of this, except possibly for saying “Yes” to this script. I’ve laughed (pretty loudly) at Ms. Faris’s stuff in movies like The House Bunny. She can be marvelously flirty and funny, and she does everything possible here to get more chuckles, including setting her hair-extensions on fire. So we know this movie must be some kind of weird statistical anomaly. Meanwhile I have three simple suggestions: Don’t ever let these filmmakers get their hands on a movie adaptation of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” Get Anna Faris a script. And make sure Chris Evans has a pants clause in his next contract.

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3 Responses to “Wilmington on Movies: What’s Your Number?”

  1. Sally says:

    Thanks — will definitely not waste my time on this one.

  2. vlc blu ray says:

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  3. otaku330 says:

    Meh…Will see movie anyways. Don’t always agree with bad reviews movies get. Plus, any chance to see Chris Evans in the buff is a good excuse to me.


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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon