'What's Your Number?' A Big Zero
Glenn Kenny, Special to MSN Movies
"That is 13 different [descriptive noun plural] in one [descriptive noun of
opposed gender singular]!" one appalled female character exclaims early on in
this film, upon learning that one of her cohorts has slept with more than a
dozen men. Call this reviewer old-fashioned, or just plain old (I began sowing
such wild oats as I had in the late 1970s), but I wasn't particularly effaced by
that number. Hell, or heck, I've seen movies in which a women "sleeps" with more
men than that in less time than this film takes to ... OK, maybe we shouldn't
get into that. Anyhow, the premise of the romantic comedy "What's Your Number?" is not based on phone digits
but, yes, on the number of men a woman gets to engage in sexual congress with
before her ... well, do we want to call it a sell-by date? ... is up, as it
One might have thought that we as a society were past this, but apparently not. Adapted by screenwriters Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden from a novel called -- I kid you not -- "20 Times a Lady," by one Karyn Bosnak, and directed by frequent "Entourage" helmer Mark Mylod, "Number" focuses on the efforts of single (and recently relieved of employment) woman Ally Darling, whose titular number is several more than 13, to backtrack through her exes in order to find a Mr. Right among them, and hence keep the titular number from going any further up. A rather ridiculous and potentially self-defeating quest, you might think, and you might be right. (And as for whether we as a society are indeed past this, consider that around the same time as this reviewer began sowing such wild oats as he had, a kinda-sorta zeitgeisty movie was a Paul and Leonard Schrader-penned piece called "Old Boyfriends," in which a single woman backtracked through her exes in order to kill them. So we as a society have actually looped this!) Ally is aided in this task by her incredibly hunky but rather dawg-like player of an across-the-hall neighbor with keen Internet tracking skills. Could this unlikely character be, in fact, the Mr. Right she's looking for? Well of course he could be -- you knew that from the trailer!
What you don't know from the trailer is that "What's Your Number?" spends a largely intolerable hour and 45 minutes reaching an all-too-obvious conclusion. I imagine that most of the other reviews of this picture are going to focus on poor Anna Faris, the talented and vivacious actress who plays Ally, and whose work has been such that she seems to deserve a breakout hit along the lines of "Bridesmaids," which this picture is, predictably, being marketed as being in the mode of. As it were. Unfortunately, in Hollywood, "deserve" has got nothing to do with anything, and this movie not only wastes her talents, it wastes those of Anthony Mackie, Andy Samberg, Thomas Lennon and, yes, even Chris Evans, who plays the aforementioned hunky dawg. I don't feel I'm being unfair in speculating that Aziz Ansari, who's got a credit on this film's IMDb page, is relieved not to have made the final cut. And while I'm as virtually besotted with Mrs. Faris as the next film-reviewing fella, and did enjoy seeing her play basketball in her underwear and, yes, using her considerable comedic chops in the (very) infrequent almost-actually-funny scenes (the accent humor here was a genuine highlight!), the film's tedium is such that by the time the final credits rolled, I felt much sorrier for myself than I did for her.
Glenn Kenny is chief film critic for MSN Movies. He was the chief film critic for Premiere magazine from 1998 to 2007. He contributes to various publications and websites, and blogs at http://somecamerunning.typepad.com. He lives in Brooklyn.