Review: What’s Your Number?
Updated: Sep 5, 2018
What’s Your Number, which opens in theaters tomorrow, inevitably will face comparisons to Bridesmaids, many of which will be negative. But the truth is that it shouldn’t. Although Chris O’Dowd made the most adorable police officer ever in Bridesmaids, his character’s romance with Kristen Wiig’s Annie was not the central plot line of that movie. The central relationship in Bridesmaids is about the friendship between Annie and Maya Rudolph’s Lillian, which means it’s not a romantic comedy. Plenty of male-centered comedies like I Love You, Man and Superbad have romantic subplots, but the A plot line is the best friend relationship. Sadly, we ladies don’t get to see much of that at the movies, which is why Bridesmaids was unfairly lumped into the (oft-derided) chick flick category.
On the other hand, What’s Your Number? is straight-up chick flick, a romantic comedy that benefits greatly from the extra laughs brought in from its R rating. (Actually, I bet if there were more R-rated romcoms out there, the chick flick genre wouldn’t be subject to so much derision.) The movie stars the always delightful Anna Faris as a woman who decides she doesn’t want the number of guys she’s slept with to top 20, so she revisits the guys she’s dated to see if any of them improved with age and might just be marriage material. She gets an assist throughout the process from her manwhore neighbor, played by Chris Evans and his perennially shirtless torso.
But let’s get those pesky comparisons to Bridesmaids out of the way first. Both movies open with nearly identical sequences of the protagonist perfecting her waking-up face for the sleeping male next to her (Question: would you prefer to wake up next to Don Draper or Spock?), both movies use the impending wedding of the closet female to the protagonist as a backdrop for the story, and both movies include the protagonist losing her job.
Of course, the ways the main characters deal with these situations are completely different, and I think ultimately What’s Your Number?‘s biggest selling point. Anna Faris’ Ally is one of the most likable leading ladies to headline a romantic comedy in years. Instead of spending most of the movie moping and making cringeworthy poor choices, Ally is actually someone I’d like to hang out with. Sure, she made bad decisions, like getting drunk and sleeping with her boss after he fires her (and if our boss were Joel McHale, we would probably do the same thing), but she bounces back right after and she always has a plan of action. She’s never referred to as uptight and controlling, and no one says she needs to “loosen up.” And she spends zero seconds of the movie’s runtime watching tearjerkers and weeping into her ice cream. That’s not to say the movie is free of clichés. There are plenty (including saddling the lead with a quirky hobby that is painfully forced). And like you expect, the action follows the typical romcom story pattern, but at least everyone seems to be having fun while they’re doing it, which is more than I can say for any Katherine Heigl movie I’ve ever seen.
And whereas many romcoms simply create an obstacle that everyone must get over in order for them to be together, whether it’s a bet or a secret journalism assignment or time travel, this movie has a sweet, important message, and it’s that you should trust yourself because the guy that seems right on paper, the one that everyone thinks you should be with might just be the wrong one for you while the one that everyone tells you is bad news could end up being your Mr. Right.
Every woman I know, including me, has bemoaned the lack of great romcoms in recent years, and while their manifold cliches are something I can live with for now, shrewish “heroines” are something I can’t. What’s Your Number? may not be a perfect movie, but the return of a fun female lead you would actually want to be friends with is something that’s truly perfect.
Check out the trailer.