Hollywood’s new age of realistically raunchy, female-driven romantic comedies takes a step backward with “What’s Your Number?”, a dollop of forgettable fluff that’s as dull and predictable as they come.
If Kristen Wiig’s “Bridesmaids” was a 10 and Cameron Diaz’s “Bad Teacher” was a 6, then “What’s Your Number?” rates a 2 or 3, straining through a similar R-rated sensibility but delivering the usual vanilla of most PG-13 romances.
As she usually does, Anna Faris comes through with a spirit and quirkiness far more engaging than the material merits, creating a character you’d like to embrace if only she wasn’t forced to behave so stupidly and shallowly. But it’s difficult to get caught up in what essentially is a one-note, feature-length gag about a woman’s sudden fixation that she’s slept around too much and that one of those former partners must have been her perfect mate.
Particularly when the filmmakers had the misfortune of starting their story with Faris stealthily preening so she’ll look like a cover girl for her current partner when he wakes beside her. It might have looked like an original moment from director Mark Mylod, a veteran of British TV as well as HBO’s “Entourage,” and screenwriters Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden, if it weren’t a bad echo of an identical — and much more clever and genuine — sequence in “Bridesmaids.”
Based on Karyn Bosnak’s novel “20 Times a Lady,” “What’s Your Number?” has Faris’ Ally Darling in similar straits as Wiig in “Bridesmaids” — newly fired and fumbling romantically while everyone else seems to cruise effortlessly into love and marriage.
Ally freaks after reading an article stating that most women average 10.5 sexual partners in their lives and that those who sleep with 20 or more men are prone to insecurities and low self-esteem that make them unlikely to land a husband. She tallies up her number and realizes with horror that she’s just hit that terrible milestone, so Ally vows to go without sex while she reconnects with past lovers, figuring she threw back at least one fish she should have kept on the line.
It’s as episodic as it sounds as Ally and her ally — hunky neighbor Colin (Chris Evans), who conveniently has a snoop’s background, growing up in a family of cops — track down the men in her life one by one. The exchanges between Ally and her lovers are quick and mostly humdrum, despite a nice range of cameo appearances by such actors as Anthony Mackie, Zachary Quinto, Martin Freeman, Joel McHale, Chris Pratt and Andy Samberg.
Faris’ ditzy earnestness salvages some chuckles from a few of these interactions, particularly when she lapses into a series of deteriorating accents trying to impress an old British beau.
Ari Graynor manages an easy rapport with Faris as Ally’s perfect, soon-to-be-married sister. But Blythe Danner is stuck in phony overbearing mode as their mother, while Ed Begley Jr. pops up as a lame afterthought as their dad.
Bad as the movie is, it’s a nice showcase for Evans to display his comic charms (and rippling abs as a guy who goes shirtless an awful lot) after establishing his superhero cred in the title role of the summer hit “Captain America: The First Avenger.”
From the instant Evans’ Colin appears on screen, though, it’s insipidly obvious who Ally’s Mr. Right is, and the movie doesn’t add up enough fun moments to make getting there an interesting trip.
There’s a real missed opportunity for some shrewd laughs and even social insights in Ally’s conviction that 20 lovers make her an undesirable slut while womanizing Colin, who’s clearly bedded far more partners, is simply living every guy’s dream.
“What’s Your Number?” sticks to the low common denominators of most Hollywood romances, and it ends up a commonplace one for doing so.