Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Short Take: "What's Your Number?" (2011)

Directed by: Mark Mylod

First things first: the premise of What's Your Number? has a fair amount of sexism at its core. The film, based on the novel "20 Times a Lady" by Karyn Bosnack, proposes that if a woman sleeps with more than 20 men in her lifetime, then she will never be able to find a husband and will be doomed to live in spinsterhood all of her life. As Ally (Anna Faris) frets about already being at #19 and goes through her history to determine if perhaps she's already met "the one," her neighbor/obvious love interest Colin (Chris Evans) has a different woman in his apartment every night but there's never any concern about his marriage prospects. Implied point: women who sleep around are undesirable, but men who do the same suffer no consequences. It's a disgusting, backwards notion.

That being said, What's Your Number? manages to get past that issue almost solely on the backs of its actors. Faris has always been a winning performer who's deserved greater fame and roles, and she manages to not only make Ally hilarious but human. In her more than capable hands, Ally is never the butt of the joke nor the object of the film's scorn. Instead, she's a complex woman who can hold her own. Evans, too, is great fun as charming lout Colin; he too takes what could have been a one-note role and finds both depth and humor in it. Most importantly, they have fantastic chemistry, making their predetermined coupling all the more fulfilling. Toss in some great cameos from Chris Pratt, Martin Freeman, Anthony Mackie, and Blythe Danner, and there's plenty of fun stuff to find in here. Here's proof that great acting can elevate otherwise subpar material. B

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