Poor Anna Faris. She just can’t seem to catch a break. Young, pretty and capable she has the ability to play a ditzy blonde better than any other actress of her generation. I mean that as a compliment of the highest order. After all, Marilyn Monroe made a career of it. The difference is Marilyn found herself in a dozen classics that still hold up today. Anna hasn’t been so lucky. There’s her memorable turns in Lost in Translation and Brokeback Mountain. And the only reason The House Bunny and Just Friends worked, were because of her considerable charisma. But little else has been worthy of her talents. Where is the vehicle that will catapult her fame into the stratosphere? Keep looking. What’s Your Number? is not that film.
The problem is certainly not the cast. Anna Faris plays the flighty, beleaguered bubblehead to a T. She’s as engaging as she possible can be under the circumstances. Here she depicts a spirited woman worried by a magazine article that claims the average woman has 10.5 sexual partners in her life. She has had 19 and the essay goes on to say those who have had over 20 will never end up getting married. After inadvertently sleeping with her ex-boss (#20), she vows to re-visit all of her exes in an effort to re-evaluate which was “the one who got away” so as not to go past that ominous number. So begins her quest to find Mister Right.
Anna is surrounded by an accomplished cast of up and comers on the verge of stardom. Chris Evans epitomizes self-assured swagger as the lothario-of-a-neighbor she doesn’t want to date, despite the fact that he’s handsome, friendly, close in age and conveniently right across the hall from her. There’s also the revolving door of actors that pop up as the men she dates. Joel McHale, Andy Samberg, Zachary Quinto, Thomas Lennon, Martin Freeman, Anthony Mackie and Chris Pratt (who just so happens to be Anna Farris’ real-life husband) each appear in cameos. Talented performers all, these thespians have demonstrated far greater talent elsewhere. Every time one of them emerged, I was hopeful “Oh wow! It’s THAT GUY that was so good in _______!” My expectations only to be disappointed time and time again. “Oh no! Look how tragically sad he is here.”
What’s Your Number? is painstakingly unfunny. The featherweight script is shockingly based on a 2006 novel by Karyn Bosnak entitled 20 Times a Lady. There’s absolutely nothing even remotely literary about the dialogue which suggests there’s nothing more humiliating than a woman without a man. It starts out, rather inauspiciously, with the same exact joke as Bridesmaids. Reminding the audience about the funniest movie of the year is generally not a bright idea unless you plan to raise the bar and be ever better. No such luck here. Everything from the jokes to the situations, feels desperate and stupid. That is, when the plot isn‘t relying on mind numbing formula. It’s devoid of funny lines, laughs and charm. A tragic trifecta in a romantic comedy. If not for Anna Faris and Chris Evans, the entire exercise would have been excruciating. Ok, I guess it was kind of excruciating anyway.