Anna Faris is oh, so easy to love. Her problem is that too often she makes movies that are oh, so easy to dislike.
What's Your Number? is such a project, a latecomer in this year's glut of rom-coms featuring women characterized solely by their libidos. It's a witless puppy nipping at the high heels of Bridesmaids and interchangeable friends sharing sexual benefits. Part of Faris' appeal is her willingness to appear clumsy-dumb on screen, not in discussions with her agent.
Faris plays Ally Darling, recently dumped by a boyfriend and laid off from some sort of job (bad movies don't bother with such details). Ally retreats to moping and fiddling with clay sculptures having nothing to do with the story except an unlikely romantic gesture later.
During her downer time, Ally reads a magazine declaring any woman with 20 or more lovers in her past has probably overlooked Mr. Right. Ally's total is — you guessed it — 20. She compiles a list of sexual partners and revisits them, to learn if indeed one is marriage material.
Luckily, Ally's neighbor Colin (Chris Evans, Captain America) prefers to duck his many bedmates. They strike a bargain; he'll assist her search and she'll provide him excuses to bail. They're obviously perfect together but won't realize it for nearly the entire movie. You'd think they would wise up after skinny dipping and a game of strip H-O-R-S-E on the Boston Celtics' basketball court. Then again, they never notice that nobody in this movie's Boston speaks with a "chowdah" accent.
Ally's trip down memory lover's lane brings one-joke reunions: a ventriloquist (Andy Samberg) whose dummy enjoyed watching them have sex, a gynecologist (Thomas Lennon) who doesn't remember Ally until he peeks at her lady bits, an Englishman (Martin Freeman) whom Ally failed to impress with a terrible British accent. The only man who'd marry her (Anthony Mackie) is gay and needs a "beard" to advance his career.
After confirming any suspicion that What's Your Number? isn't worth the price of a movie ticket, let me offer one of many reasons why tickets cost so much in the first place.
Twentieth Century Fox screened Faris' movie with only a handful of critics attending — and nearly as many security guards hired to ensure we aren't video pirates. (No critic anywhere has been accused of being so.) Apparently this is Fox's standard policy. Such costs are eventually passed along to you, dear consumers.
Not to mention the fact that I wouldn't even DVR What's Your Number? if under house arrest and starved for entertainment. I've got this movie's number, and it's zero.
Steve Persall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8365.