Saturday, September 29, 2012

What's Your Number?

In spite of its mixed messages about female sexuality, What’s Your Number is surprisingly funny and even touching. Anna Farris plays Ally who hopes to find a date to her sister Daisy’s (Ari Graynor) wedding. After reading that most women who have twenty or more sexual partners never settle down, she is determined that her next lay be “the one.” To prevent raising the number of men she’s slept with, Ally enlists the help of her philandering neighbor Colin (Chris Evans) to track down her exes hoping they improved with time.

One of the film’s problems is its unintentional similarities to the superior Bridesmaids. The heroine has mixed feelings about a wedding, meets a man who encourages her to follow her artistic sensibilities, and struggles with unemployment. (“Struggles” is an overstatement; considering their financial situations, these characters have remarkable apartments.) Even the opening scene contains a gag that is nearly identical to one in Bridesmaids.

Still, the movie is more irreverent and amusing than most romantic comedies. Farris is hilarious as Ally, a young woman who makes many mistakes but never runs out of optimism. Evans is fairly appealing as Colin, the obligatory rogue with a heart of gold. Since he admits that he can hardly spend time with a woman without trying to sleep with her, she doesn’t consider him an option. Instead, she rendezvous with an assortment of ex-boyfriends and flings, played by a pleasing array of actors. A large part of the movie’s appeal consists of her awkward interactions with men played by familiar faces such as Joel McHale, Chris Pratt, Zachary Quinto, Martin Freeman, and Anthony Mackie.

The film also focuses on Ally’s relationship with her family. She feels out of place with her more conventional sister and perfectly coiffed mother, in spite of their close relationships. All this, of course, channels towards her inevitable lesson about love and being herself. Many women will identify with her grapples with relationship advice, the media, and questions about a “normal” modern woman’s sexual appetites. The movie touches on the thin line between giving someone a chance and trying to force a relationship.

Unfortunately, the movie undermines some of its more progressive themes. It certainly includes sexist stereotypes, not to mention weightism. Ally is meant to be a disaster, but she often looks perfect and is shot sexually. (To be fair, Colin is naked throughout most of the movie.) When it comes down to it, though Ally doesn’t fit into the film world, she is still a man’s ideal woman. She isn’t high maintenance, enjoys watching and playing sports (in one scene, she engages in a sexy one-on-one basketball game—in her underwear), and is up for almost anything.

There are definitely moments where the film crosses the line into poor taste. The whole thing is difficult to take seriously. The “comedic” music makes the movie feel as though it should have a laugh track. But What’s Your Number ultimately conveys the “life is messy: embrace it” message with (mostly) good-natured humor.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Alice, hehe. I read only terrible reviews but watched the movie anyway. It was disturbing how into it I was. :O I guess it helped that I had low expectations.

    2. PS This comment made me really happy! Thank you for liking me.