It seems fitting that What’s Your Number? opens with a scene almost identical to the one that opens Bridesmaids, as the two films share similar subject matter. Both films star women who should be counted among the best comediennes of our generation in roles that are well-rounded characters dealing with the low points in life and trying to make sense of where their lives have led. Both Kristen Wiig and Anna Faris made career-defining films this year, and that is something to be very happy about.
Thankfully, What’s Your Number? differs enough in both plot and comic sensibility from Bridesmaids. While the latter film briskly treads into Apatow/Snyder territory of gross out humor and over the top comedy sequences, What’s Your Number? mostly remains a character driven screwball romantic comedy. Faris plays Ally Darling, a recently fired/recently broke up woman who feels her life is going nowhere, a feeling cemented by Marie Clare announcing that the average American woman has slept with 10.5 men, a number which Ally has doubled so far. Despite attempts to cheer herself up during a night out with her bride-to-be sister, Daisy (Ari Graynor) and her fellow bridesmaids, she ends up crossing the 20 mark with her ex boss (Community’s Joel McHale). McHale here is in full sleazeball mode, and it’s nice to see him play a somewhat darker role than he does on Community. Graynor and McHale are just two of the amazing supporting cast which includes Chris Pratt (Faris’ real-life husband) and Blythe Danner as the sisters’ status-obsessed mother.
Playing opposite Faris is Captain America, I mean Chris Evans, still looking extremely cut from punching Nazis this summer. As Colin, Ally’s womanizing neighbor, he shares a fairly original “meet cute” with Faris — he hides in her apartment so he doesn’t have to deal with the woman he hooked up with the night before when she leaves. Evans is extremely charming in the role, and while we never see him trick a woman into bed with his supposedly pig tactics, I imagine he need only to enter a bar and remove his shirt. After a summer full of abs, ladies are treated to a second helping of Evans (Faris herself provides plenty of eye candy for the men in the audience, so it’s nice to see the ogling as equal).
For something that is clearly being marketed as a sex comedy, What’s Your Number? refreshingly treats its characters like grownups, not giggling at the mere utterance of the word penis, and capable of having mature relationships. It’s rare that we get lead characters in a comedy as well-rounded as Ally and Colin, but I also commend the film for doing a great job with the supporting cast as well. Even characters we only get to see once or twice tend to seem like they have whole backstories to them (though the other bridesmaids tend to all merge into one alternatively squealing and bitchy mass).
I would describe What’s Your Number? as a cute film, one that lovingly satirizes our culture, but is far from scathing. Women’s magazines, while sensational and repetitive (as we see in the opening credits) can still inform lives without dominating them, moms can be childish and controlling but still loved, and men can be horrible assholes (and treated as such) without getting drinks spilled on them or having to duck flying dish ware. It’s bright and brisk, and very funny, making it a worthy diversion and far above most of the other recent rom com drivel.
What’s Your Number? opens today in Philly-area theaters.
“This is the business we’ve chosen!” Jill Malcolm and Ryan Silberstein, two self-described film aficionados, tell it like it is about the latest and greatest movies. They are Contributing editors here at Cinedelphia, writing partners, and founders of Filmhash.com.