'Bridesmaids' revisited, sort of
By Michael O'Sullivan
Friday, Sep 30, 2011
The ads for "What's Your Number?" have made no secret of what they're gunning for. The chick-centric raunch fest is, according to the commercial, "20 times funnier" than "Bridesmaids," this summer's breakout R-rated comedy, starring Kristen Wiig as the lusty, lovelorn best pal of bride-to-be Maya Rudolph.
The new movie - starring Anna Faris as the lusty, lovelorn sister of bride-to-be Ari Graynor - even opens with the same joke that "Bridesmaids" opened with: Faris's Ally Darling hopping out of bed at the crack of dawn just so she can primp in front of the mirror before her sleeping boyfriend, Rick (Zachary Quinto), sees what she really looks like in the morning.
It was funny in "Bridesmaids." Now, much like Ally herself, it just comes across as desperate.
In a bid to attract the "Bridesmaids" audience - guys who wouldn't normally be caught dead at a chick flick and gals who wouldn't normally be caught dead at a foul-mouthed sex farce - "What's Your Number?" ups the vulgarity, ladling it on top of a rom-com base so insipid and predictable that the only thing to keep you awake is counting the number of times that the script drops the word "vagina."
It's a lot.
But, as noted by the New York Times, nearly every new, female-powered TV sitcom this year - "Whitney," "Suburgatory," "Two Broke Girls" - is also wearing out that word. This makes "What's Your Number?" feel less like a boundary-buster than a bandwagon-follower. It's a cynical exercise in marketing, masquerading as a maverick.
The premise of "What's Your Number?" is also statistical. After breaking up with Rick - Ally's 19th lover - Ally reads in a women's magazine that most women who have had 20 or more sex partners will never get married. Panicking - especially after getting drunk and sleeping with the boss who has just fired her (Joel McHale) - Ally vows to stay celibate until she can dig up as many of her exes as possible, hoping that one of them, in the interim, has turned into the man of her dreams.
For the most part, the former-boyfriend cameos - which include Andy Samberg as a nerdy ventriloquist and Anthony Mackie as a now-gay politician - aren't clever. Chris Pratt of "Parks and Recreation," playing a happily engaged man who comes to believe that Ally is stalking him, is the rare exception.
Assisting Ally in the detective work is her across-the-hall neighbor Colin (Chris Evans), a sweet but seemingly commitmentphobic hottie who spends a substantial screen time in various states of undress. This should tell you a lot about where the story is going, as well as just how superficial it is. At least in "Bridesmaids," Chris O'Dowd's rendition of the dreamboat-right-under-your-nose character was dryly hilarious. Evans may be easy on the eyes, and the actor does have a laid-back charm. But he's no comedian.
Faris, for her part, fares better. Despite a raspy voice that's less sexy than annoying - you keep wishing that she'd clear her throat, or have it checked for polyps - the actress has enough screwball charm to make you wish for better material.
Not that "What's Your Number?" is totally devoid of sweetness or humor. The offbeat wedding vows recited by Ally's sister and her groom (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) are quirky and wry. And, at the very end, there is one genuinely laugh-inducing moment. It comes in the form of a voice-mail message, delivered by Aziz Ansari (also of "Parks and Rec," coincidentally), playing yet another of Ally's ex-boyfriends.
As filthy as it is funny, the short message can't be described in a family newspaper. Still, it's the best thing about the movie. Admittedly, that's not saying much, considering that it comes after nearly two hours of focus-group-tested tedium.
Contains flashes of nudity, steady obscenity and a stream of raunchy, if strained humor.