With Anna Faris, Chris Evans, Ari Graynor, Blythe Danner, Ed Begley Jr.; Running Time: 106 minutes; Rated R (for sexual content and language); Written by Gabrielle Allan & Jennifer Crittenden; Directed by Mark Mylod.
WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER? is a Boston-based sex comedy that takes forever to get underway. When it finally does, its premise is so lumbering and contrived that you find yourself looking for something to distract you while wait for the inevitable conclusion. Unfortunately, there’s not much on-screen that will do it.
The perky and very funny Anna Faris is wasted in the role of Ally. She reads an article in a magazine that women who have more than 20 sex partners in their lives are likely to end up lonely and alone. She’s at 19, and after a drunken party for her sister Daisy (Ari Graynor) who is about to get married, she hits 20. Yet she remembers that her future brother-in-law was an ex-boyfriend of Daisy who looks a lot better now. Then she runs into one of her 20 and he looks a lot better than he used to as well, although he is now engaged.
Ding ding ding! Why doesn’t Ally look up all of her past boyfriends and marry one of them? Then she won’t go over 20. As if this wasn’t stupid enough, she has a next door neighbor Colin (Chris Evans) who has a different woman up to his place every night. A musician from a family of cops, Colin is enlisted by Ally to track down all her past boyfriends, or at least the ones on the East Coast.
What follows is painful to behold. One guy who seems perfect turns out to be gay. A doctor she dated doesn’t remember her until he performs a gynecological examination. Another is an Englishman who, for some reason, is convinced she’s a fellow Brit. This works until her accent shifts from Princess Margaret to Eliza Doolittle. The problem is that none of this is very funny and one doesn’t have to be a detective to quickly figure out who she has to end up with at the end of the story, leading to still more contrivances.
Locals may enjoy the scenery, including a midnight game of “Horse” at the Boston Garden, but as usual the film’s sense of Boston area geography is through the looking glass. Ally goes from her office in downtown Boston to her apartment in the North End by way of the Red Line of the T. We know this because we see her at the Porter Square stop in Cambridge. This is like going from Boston to Gloucester by way of Providence, Rhode Island.
The waste of talent is appalling. Faris is sexy and funny but has nothing but lame jokes and a cartoonish character to work with, while local boy Evans’s chief appeal for the filmmakers seems to be his willingness to take off his clothes… constantly. While the film is R-rated, it is a 12-year-old’s idea of a racy comedy. This is a movie that thinks it’s funny to have little children repeat the “F-word” but is so unfamiliar with the way people talk that it sets a record for the use of the words “penis” and “vagina” instead of more common slang terms much more likely to be used. This is a movie so out of it that it thinks referencing Facebook and Twitter makes it cool.
“What’s Your Number?” is less an exercise in bad taste than in bad filmmaking.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books, the most recent being Jar Jar Binks Must Die… And Other Observations About Science Fiction Movies. He teaches film at Suffolk University and lives in Somerville.