September 30, 2011


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Written by: Mitch Salem
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WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER? – Worth a Ticket:   The Number’s Higher Than You’d Think


Romantic comedies that are actually romantic and comic are so rare these days, it doesn’t matter so much that WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER? is in many ways thoroughly second-rate.  It delivers some laughs and a likable couple to root for, and as you’re watching it, the part of your mind objectively noting all the flaws and sloppiness is gradually eclipsed by the part that shrugs and says “Awww.”


It would be impossible, for example, to defend the very premise of the movie, which stems from a novel by Karyn Bosnak, adapted by Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden.  Anna Faris plays Ally Darling (“Darling”?  Really, was that necessary?), a young woman whose younger sister Daisy Darling (Ari Graynor) is getting married, and in the way of women in romantic comedies, this makes Ally borderline insane about the need to be settled down.  She’s particularly distressed when she realizes that her count of lovers has reached just about 20, and some study in Marie-Claire says that any woman who’s slept with that many men will never find a husband.  So, obsessed with not exceeding her allotment, Ally decides to track down her 20 men in the hope that one of them will have morphed into her Prince Charming.

So far, so hypocritically pretending to be sexually liberated while actually being completely morally retro.  But wait:  across the hall from Ally lives a dissolute, womanizing, good-looking and frequently unclothed aspiring musician named Colin (Chris Evans), who agrees to help Ally find her exes in exchange for getting refuge in her apartment from his own one-night stands.  Do you really need me to say who turns out to be the perfect man for Ally?  Who cleans up his own act and and is the only one who appreciates Ally for the woman she really is?  And that just as this is becoming clear, Ally will find herself pursued by a man who is, in every superficial way, Perfect, meaning that she’ll have to make A Choice

I mean, ugh.  Absolutely.  And yet… The script has some snap and off-hand surprises, and more importantly, it has Faris and Evans.  Faris has been waiting to be the Next Big Thing for so long that it feels like a broken record, and it looked like The House Bunny was going to be her ticket–but even though that movie was a hit, she’s still not A Name.  She’s even better in Number than she was in Bunny, because she gets to be smart instead of Judy Hollidayish dumb-yet-wise.  And Evans, who seems to be trying to prove himself in every genre at once this year, from the action heroics of Captain America to the serious drama of Puncture, does a softer version of the sleazy-guy-who-turns-sensitive that Gerard Butler’s been playing in movies like The Ugly Truth and The Bounty Hunter, and it works.  He and Faris have a real comic rapport that’s sexy and comfortable, and it makes them a pleasure to watch together.

The movie also has an unusually strong supporting cast, with people like Blythe Danner as Ally’s disapproving mother, Eliza Coupe and Heather Burns as two of her friends, Andy Samberg, Chris Pratt, Anthony Mackie, Joel McHale and Martin Freeman as some of the exes, and Dave Annable as Mr. Perfect. Mark Mylod, who’s been a house director on Entourage, keeps things moving briskly toward the predetermined ending and lets Faris and Evans do their stuff.

It’s more than a little uncool to admit enjoying What’s Your Number? because every step of the way, it would be perfectly fair to characterize the movie as cliched, predictable and as subtle as a CG robot battle.  But a little wit and charm go a long way in this genre, and while Number isn’t–well, it certainly isn’t Crazy Stupid Love–it’s an enjoyable piece of undemanding fluff.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."