In the annals of romantic comedies, What’s Your Number? gets a mention only because of Anna Faris’s zany yet tender performance as Ally Darling, a woman who let’s herself believe that she’s had one too many sexual partners. The film, based on the book 20 Times a Lady, chronicles Ally’s attempt to win back a former flame so that her magic number doesn’t crest twenty, an idea she gets from a Marie Claire article. It’s not clear whose sensibilities she’s worried about offending, but she begins her quest to (re-)find The One and settle down like her younger sister Daisy (Ari Graynor).
As Ally moves forward with her maid of honor duties for Daisy’s upcoming wedding, she looks backward at all the men, and boys, she’s slept with, hoping that one of them has turned into something of a Prince Charming. She discovers that some guys are still up to their old tricks while others have taken a sharp turn for the better. She has her sights set in particular on Jake Adams (Dave Annable), scion of Boston’s wealthiest family. Her socialite mother (Blythe Danner) is ecstatic at the potential match and does what she can to encourage the pair, oblivious to her daughter’s changing feelings.
Romantic comedy laws dictate, however, that when there’s a merry-go-round of guys (including Zachary Quinto, Joel McHale, Martin Freeman, Anthony Mackie, and Faris’s actual man, Chris Pratt), the right one is the one closest to you, and hunky next door neighbor is always a good place to start. This is especially true when he looks like Chris Evans and spends not an insignificant amount of time without his clothes. Evans plays Colin, a musician and womanizer, though maybe not in that order, who uses Ally’s apartment to hide from his one night stands. In agreeing to help her stalk dig up dirt on her exes, he finds himself falling for her.
The role fits Evans like the tight t-shirts he’s constantly taking off. Handsome, dude-ish, but affectionate, Colin’s easy to shape into a lovable, roguish lump of a guy. He’s a nice character to pass the time with but not altogether memorable. For all his Captain America appeal, he fades into the background.
But then, most people do against Faris. It’s not so much that she steals every scene but that they are hers for the taking. She’s physically expressive but avoids crass exaggeration for comedic effect. Faris makes stuffing cake into her mouth both funny and relatable just as she makes a ritzy date with Jake a little awkward and heartbreaking. She’s also game for an embarrassing round of bad British accents. Ally could easily be an annoying character, one of those romcom heroines who sets an arbitrary goal and then enlists her whole squad to help her achieve her romantic project, but for all of her desperation, there is a spark of joy that Faris gives to her character. Even after getting dumped by her latest boyfriend, then fired from her marketing job, then caught sleeping with her now ex-boss, she springs back again, ready to start anew, even if it means going for something a little old.
Prod: Beau Flynn, Tripp Vinson
Dir: Mark Mylod
Writer: Gabrielle Allan, Jennifer Crittenden
Cast: Anna Faris, Chris Evans, Ari Graynor, Blythe Danner, Ed Begley, Jr., Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Dave Annable, Heather Burns, Eliza Coupe, Tika Sumpter, Joel McHale, Chris Pratt, Zachary Quinto, Mike Vogel, Martin Freeman, Andy Samberg, Thomas Lennon, Anthony Mackie
Time: 106 min
Country: United States