CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Anna Faris Falls Flat in Awful ‘What’s Your Number?’
CHICAGO – Why can’t anyone figure out how to use Anna Faris effectively? She’s got some of the best comic timing of any actress working today but she can’t find a good script in which to display it. Take her latest venture, the misogynistic, creepy, and just BAD “What’s Your Number?,” a pale excuse for a chick flick that should look even more ghostly in light of the similarly-themed and far-superior “Bridesmaids” earlier this year.
Opening with a nearly-identical scene to the start of “Bridesmaids,” “What’s Your Number?” is another tale of a woman trying to figure out her dating life in light of the impending marriage of someone close to her. In the Wiig film, it was her best friend. Here, the horribly-named Ally Darling (Faris) is shaken up by the nuptial planning for her sister Daisy (Ari Graynor) – yes, her name is Daisy Darling. And that’s one of the funnier things about the movie.
What’s Your Number?
Photo credit: Fox
Not only is Daisy getting married, but Ally gets a few more shocks to the system when she’s fired (and later sleeps with her boss played with smarm by the more-talented-than-this Joel McHale) and learns that the average woman has 10.5 sexual partners in her lifetime. Ally does some math and determines that she’s had 20. She first “proclamates” that the next guy she sleeps with will be her husband but then sets an even-better plan in motion when she decides to go back through the 20 and see if she didn’t let Mr. Right get away already. With the help of a cop’s son named Colin (Chris Evans), Ally begins to track down all her former lovers. Of course, Mr. Right happens to be right next door. Duh.
Everyone in “What’s Your Number?” is more talented than the awful script by Gabrielle Allan & Jennifer Crittenden allows them to be here. It’s sad to see actors and actresses as talented as Blythe Danner, Graynor, McHale, Chris Pratt, Martin Freeman, Anthony Mackie, and even Andy Samberg in roles where they doing nothing but fall flat. With the one-scene, cameo-driven nature of most of the film, it’s like watching an all-star stand-up night where each supporting actor is given five minutes and every single one of them bombs. It just gets depressing. “Ooh, Chris Pratt, I like him. Too bad.” “Yeah, Martin Freeman. Dammit.” “Anthony Mackie rules. Awwww f**k.” The structure of the movie forces it to be not unlike Ally’s sex life – a string of disappointments.
What’s Your Number?
Photo credit: Fox
There are scenes between Faris and Evans, when the two characters are allowed to just be themselves, that work. These two have screen charisma to spare and they actually have decent chemistry. In Ally’s apartment, when the two actors/characters can relax, the movie approaches what it should have been all along. It’s the schtick outside of that room (especially the horrendously-written banter between Ally and her friends) that’s completely flat. “Bridesmaids” works because we believe the characters enough to make the more extreme humor believable as well. None of “What’s Your Number?” feels genuine. The sister dynamic, the friend dynamic, the mother character, the ex-boyfriends – it’s all cartoonish and insulting.
And, yes, ladies you should be insulted. Evans’ character Colin makes a deal to help Ally if she lets him hide out from his latest sexual conquest until she leaves. In other words, the movie is about how one woman strives to be less sexual and settle down while presenting a male love interest who is admittedly trying to work his way through the panties of Boston. One can say that the double standard in which men are players and women are whores is a part of society and that “What’s Your Number?” reflects that, but it’s a chicken and the egg argument. Perhaps it’s a part of society because of misogynistic crap like this movie.
Which brings us back to Anna Faris. She’s charming. She’s funny. She’s beautiful. And I really want her to find a new agent. She found her best vehicle in “The House Bunny,” but even that was far from perfect. Maybe she should call Kristen Wiig and ask her to write her a part.