Print media may be facing dire challenges, but you wouldn’t know it from romantic comedies. Hollywood still treats women’s magazines as works of Biblical importance to the American woman; take, for example, What’s Your Number?, in which a woman downsized from her marketing position reconceptualizes her life after flipping through a Marie Claire.
Anna Faris plays Ally Darling (awww…), whose Boston subway ride is ruined when Marie Claire tells her the average number of lovers an American woman has in her lifetime is 10.5. Aghast at having nearly doubled that total—and shamed by her younger sister’s impending marriage—Ally resolves to stop sleeping with men until she finds “the one.” That’s a tall order for a girl who likes a few drinks on the town (and the sex that tends to follow), but Ally decides she won’t give “yes” for an answer.
Ally bonds with her womanizing across-the-hall neighbor Colin (Chris “Captain America” Evans) when they help each other ditch dates, prompting Ally to offer a trade: her apartment as a hideout from booty calls in exchange for Colin’s help digging up her old flames. Perhaps, she reasons, they’re worthy of a hookup for old time’s sake (after all, exes won’t add to her total) or even the ultimate hookup: marriage.
Ally’s old boyfriends prove mostly unavailable or unmarriageable, but we learn in the process that Ally has slept with modern comedy’s B-list, including Andy Samberg, Chris Pratt, Thomas Lennon, and Martin Freeman. Finally, Ally reconnects with prized bachelor Jake Adams (Dave Annable), and since this is a strictly boilerplate rom com, we’re to pretend that, like Ally, we don’t see the obvious: her true love is the man right under her nose, the confident but surprisingly sweet Colin. Yes, with sex out of the equation, Ally and Colin get to know and love each other.
Based on Karen Bosnak’s novel 20 Times a Lady, What’s Your Number? is frothy and predictable, occasionally annoying (the persistent, pandering Facebook and Twitter jokes), but a crowd pleaser for those who don’t blanche at the term “chick flick.” Aimed at the young and restless by a TV-bred director and screenwriters, the picture doesn’t seem much to mind that it’s disposable, instead focusing on cheerily crude sex talk and getting Faris and Evans out of their clothes at every possible opportunity (we’re talking every other scene, folks).
So director Mark Mylod knows which side his bread is buttered on, and he takes as much advantage of Faris’ comic chops as the script allows. It’s sad that the thirty-four-year-old Faris seems to have resorted to face-altering plastic surgery, but she remains every inch a comedienne of the Lucy school, powering scenes like the one in which she fakes her way through a bad British accent or the one in which she pounds away at a leg that’s fallen asleep. It’s just that she and Evans deserve better than a string of rom-com clichés, including the surprise date in a closed sports arena. Unless you’re Justin Beiber and Selena Gomez, it couldn’t happen to you.
[This review first appeared in Palo Alto Weekly.]
Fox's What's Your Number?: Ex-tended Edition reaches home theaters looking and sounding quite good. There's an unofficial style guide for romantic comedies, insisting that they be sunnily bright and colorful. That basically holds true for this hi-def transfer, which is sharp enough and lacking in any digital artifacts. The image is film-like and gets strong marks for detail, texture and warmly rendered color. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix similarly gets the hi-def job done: music best revs up the dynamics here, but dialogue is certainly clear and there's suitable ambience for street scenes and crowds.
Bonus features are as humble as one would expect: "Deleted Scenes" (17:05, HD), a "Gag Reel" (7:15, HD), and the "Theatrical Trailer" (2:26, HD), as well as "Sneak Peaks" at other titles (8:01, HD). This one's strictly for die-hard fans of the stars, and budget pricing may well get them to bite at the Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy combo pack.
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
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Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
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Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer