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What's Your Number?
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by Peter Sobczynski

"I Don't Know How She Does Them"
1 stars

Like the dreadful and possibly already forgotten "Bad Teacher" from a few months ago, "What's Your Number?" is an ugly and stupid comedy featuring ugly and stupid characters doing ugly and stupid things that inexplicably happens to star an actress who couldn't be less ugly and stupid if she tried. This time around, the actress in question is Anna Faris, whom is probably best known for being the sole saving grace of the "Scary Movie" franchise but who has also contributed hilarious performances in films ranging in quality from "Just Friends" to "Lost in Translation" to her genuinely brilliant turn in "The House Bunny," a seemingly formulaic comedy in the "Legally Blonde" mode that turned out to be about 77 times better than it had to be thanks to her sparkling efforts. This time around, she certainly gives it her all and then some but even she is unable to save this tired and deeply unfunny craptacular from being anything more than mediocre at best and borderline loathsome at worst. What makes the entire enterprise especially inexplicable is that Faris was one of the producers of this particular project and theoretically had some sort of say as to its direction--that she decided that this was the ideal vehicle for her talents suggests either a colossal lack of material suited for her talents or a colossal lack of basic taste and judgement on her part.

In the film, Faris plays Ally Darling, a Boston-based bimbo who, as the film opens, has just lost her job, can barely make her rent and serves as a constant disappointment to her nagging mother. None of that, however, seems to bother her as much as an article in Marie Claire that suggests that a woman who has had more than twenty lovers is statistically more unlikely to ever get married. Having just broken up with #19, she makes a vow to embrace chastity until she finds Mr. Right and can live happily ever after. The next morning, after waking up in bed with number 20 in the form of the guy who just fired her (Joel McHale in a cameo so embarrassing that it makes his appearance in "Spy Kids 4D" look like his appearance every week on "Community" by comparison) and later running into an ex (Chris Pratt) who has cleaned up surprisingly well, Ally recalibrates her plan. With the aid of Colin (Chris Evans), her hipster-douchebag neighbor (though one with a soulful and sensitive side, of course), Ally goes on a hunt to look up her old boyfriends to see if one of them could be The One after all and if she happens to sleep with any of them along the way, it technically won't count against her. Inevitably, one of them does turn out to be ultra-perfect but will she pick him or will she consider Colin even if doing so means making a bunch of liar pantsuits out of the editorial board at Marie Claire.

To tell the truth, the basic premise of "What's Your Number?" is about as fundamentally idiotic as that of "The House Bunny" (and if you haven't seen that one yet for some reason, I must insist that you do so as soon as it is humanly feasible) but the difference between the two is like the difference between night and day. On the surface, "The House Bunny" looked like just another dumb sex comedy aimed straight at the kind of people who proudly display Maxim on their coffee table or bathroom floor but the film, like the character Faris played, was surprisingly smart and sweet and managed to inspire a lot of big, raucous laughs without ever crossing the line into tastelessness. By comparison, "What's Your Number?" looks like just another fluffy romantic comedy--the kind that Kate Hudson could do in her sleep (and possibly has in a couple of cases)--when in fact it is a relentlessly raunchy comedy that strives so mightily to be "outrageous" that neglects to be funny in the bargain. Everything about it is so grotesquely conceived and executed that I found myself yearning for the comparative dignity of "Bridesmaids," a film that I didn't particularly care for but which comes across as an ocean of wit and subtlety when compared to this. (Considering that the major subplot of the film has Ally preparing to be a bridesmaid at her more successful sister's wedding, I am fairly certain that I will not be the only one making such comparisons.)

The story lurches from one incident to the next and instead of trying to mine the material for honest and recognizable laughs, it goes for the cheapest jokes imaginable (Look, he's gay! Look, he's a gynecologist! Look, he's Andy Samberg!) and even then fails to get its money''s worth. In fact, the biggest laughs on display here occur during the moments when the film tries to alleviate its essentially smutty nature by inserting pseudo-sincere moments in an effort to convince easily swayed viewers that it has a heart. For example, it turns out that Ally really wants to be an artist and does these little sculptures that Colin assures her are evidence of genuine talent--alas, when they are actually shown, they look like the kind of things that you might see in one of the less populated aisles of a local craft fair nestled somewhere between the table loaded with popsicle-stick hot pads and the table with the star of "Troll 2" hawking his autograph. Then there is the capper joke, which I won't reveal except to say that it appear to have been added in as an afterthought solely so as not to potentially besmirch the good name of the Marie Claire editorial board. The joke itself isn't especially amusing but I was amused by the way that after having spent 100 minutes offending the sensibilities of its viewers, it would go so far out of its way to avoid offending the geniuses at Marie Claire.

Oddly enough, "What's Your Number?" actually begins to gain a little bit of steam in its closing scenes by demonstrating some traces of the wicked sense of humor that it should have maintained throughout--it almost feels as if everyone involved rallied that the project as a whole was pretty much doomed and decided to cut loose for the last few minutes on the theory that whatever they came up with couldn't possibly hurt. For example, Faris' response to a suitor's suggestion that he could be the last guy that she sleeps with is pretty much worth the price of admission by itself, provided that it is to another movie, of course. And despite all the repellent things that she puts herself through in an attempt to score box-office gold, I still have an enormous amount of affection for Anna Faris and she pretty much single-handedly prevents the film from slipping from the solidly loathsome to the apocalyptically awful. Unlike most actresses working today, she has the kind of crack timing and utter fearlessness that could, in the proper hands, make her one of the leading comediennes of our time. Unfortunately, those hands, including her own, were clearly not on hand here and the result is a miserable time for one and all. In the film, her number may be twenty but when all is said and done, the entire thing is a prime example of number two.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=21216&reviewer=389
originally posted: 09/30/11 00:30:13
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User Comments

2/27/13 Sam lame 1 stars
2/02/12 mr.mike The 2 hour version was way too long. 3 stars
10/23/11 Theresa Rezler liked it 4 stars
10/12/11 Sonia Rinzaimayor So 95+% of humanity is assholes, douchebags & the other slurs employed ad nasuem? GMAB! 2 stars
10/11/11 Marcia Lartz Anna Faris's a formidable actress but to bad she couldn't keep innocence of 1st SCARY MOVIE 3 stars
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  30-Sep-2011 (R)
  DVD: 10-Jan-2012


  DVD: 10-Jan-2012

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