Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What's Your Number (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

What's Your Number?

Another romantic comedy is on-screen, but I wouldn't  recommend "What's Your Number?" for bringing your relationship to its next step. For the film's prevalence of  alcohol use alone, a twelve-step program  would be more fitting. 
For its part, the film is easy on the eyes. The plot focuses on Ally Darling, a somewhat loud and haphazard girl who can never seem to find her center. Fired from her marketing job, she spies an article in a magazine about romantic discontent and gets the idea to search for her nineteen (she hardly seems old enough) ex-lovers. Since she is over the national average, she reasons that her next guy will be "The One." After twenty partners, the magazine cautions, a woman is destined for unhappiness. 
The plot is thin, but Ally (Anna Faris) is likeable and entertaining. She is a bit like a pint sized Goldie Hawn (a pint of liquor, that is). Yes, be warned, her exaggerated movements and wild gesticulations get a little annoying, especially by the film's second half. Ally always appears drunk even when she is sober. She moves, wobbles and starts caterwauling about things without warning. She is very cute and quite likeable at times, no doubt, but her ditzy act just gets old. And old fast. Especially since Faris played nearly the same role in Gregg Araki's "Smiley Face" (2007). Faris maintained an edge of   goggle- eyed irreverence in that film, and the jokes were pointed, but in this outing, a little goes a long way.
It's a shame that Cupid is so pickled.
Yet even though Ally is ridiculous, she at least has some charm. The roles of her ex-boyfriends whose stories are envisioned in "Ally McBeal" style scenes, however, are either juvenile or just solidly unfunny. I am a  die-hard fan of "Saturday Night Live" and even Adam Samberg as the slobbering puppeteer let me down. Things are really bad when you have to admit that the offensive Mel Gibson in "The Beaver" pulled the same trick and produced more laughs. Many of the jokes in "What's Your Number?" center on the exes being fat, ugly or gay and they just fall on the screen with a thud. No comic life exists in most these exchanges. Why, for instance, does Ally speak in a "Borat" accent to break the ice? It is just plain dumb, not too mention ludicrous. My suspension of disbelief was shattered.
There is one scene however that held me if only temporarily: an average looking guy becomes stalked by Ally seemingly by chance. It is his alarming surprise in the manner of British funnyman John Cleese that makes this episode a chuckler. It is a sincerely funny moment and I wish there were more.  
Most of the actors just seem to float over their roles. Blythe Danner plays a domineering mother, Ed Begley, Jr. is the narcissistic smartphone-addicted divorced dad with the young girlfriend. 
I'll admit that I  enjoyed the chemistry between Chris Evans and Faris. Evans has an easy reckless appeal with a rumpled allure reminiscent of James Franco. The two play well together and their harmony is almost enough to break the formulaic ennui of the film. 
Regrettably, the repetitive plot and the generic roles drown out the sparks between these boozy, drifting soulmates. Forget the fact that Ally is a sculptor. Aside from showing her cartoony figures, (which are more theatrical than she is) she hardly mentions her art. Men and booze are far more important. 
If you want your film date to be memorable, I would suggest trying "Friends with Benefits" first before going further. It is a more authentic romance, you'll have more fun and better yet, you won't feel hungover as a couple and ready for romantic-comedy Rehab. 

Write Ian at

No comments: