Anna Faris needs a new agent. Long an underappreciated actress, in pretty much every film I’ve seen her, she’s been about the best thing in it. She’s consistently punched above the quality of material she’s given to work with, and if there was any justice, it’s she who would have snagged the lead in a project such as Bad Teacher earlier this year.
Instead, she got What’s Your Number, an achingly-predictable romantic comedy, one the hinges on convolution and only occasionally offers glimpses of what could have been.
The setup is pretty straightforward. Faris (who also executive produced the film) plays Ally, a woman who happens to read an article that tells her that 96% of women who have had twenty or more lovers can’t find a husband. A quick bit of fag packet maths later, Ally realises she’s up to nineteen, and makes a vow that she’ll find her husband from the her back catalogue of lovers.
Her cunning plan is to enlist the help of her frequently-naked neighbour, Colin. He’s played by Chris Evans, whose physique betrays the fact that this was filmed very close to the shoot of Captain America. Colin starts tracking down Ally’s exes, as she looks for her future husband, and if you can’t thread the rest of the film together from that, then congratulations: this is your very first rom-com.
There are many, many problems here, though, not just how obvious everything is. Firstly, the film, try as it might, just isn’t funny. There’s barely a rib tickle in it, in spite of the efforts of its two leads.
In fact, Chris Evans isn’t in it as much as you’d think either, leaving Faris to do much of the heavy lifting herself. And to be fair to her, she gives it, as always, pretty much everything she has.
But it’s not enough. And as she traipses around, weaving between her mother, her sister’s wedding, a fleeting collection of cameos (hello Martin Freeman! Briefly!) and the odd moment with Evans, the difficulty of making a film based on a statistic in a survey are exposed. More often than the two stars’ bodies, in fact.What’s Your Number could have used a few things. It could have used a better script, for starters. It could have used some jokes. And it could have used a lot more Chris Evans, who lifts the film whenever he’s given a solid amount of screen time.
Staggeringly, the film is described as “edgy”. That is, bluntly, an insult to edges. An edgy romantic comedy would be one willing to subvert the genre, or take narrative risks. Perhaps even set itself in a different scenario, or include characters that we’ve not seen painted onto the big screen many, many times before.
Sadly, What’s Your Number’s idea of “edgy” is to get Chris Evans and Anna Faris down to their smalls every now and then, and to throw the word ‘vagina’ into the script on several occasions.
That’s not edge, sadly. That’s just tired. And as a consequence, so is the film. Give it a miss.