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Entries in What's Your Number? [2011] (1)

Saturday
Oct012011

What's Your Number? (2011)

The Social Disease Network

What's Your Number? won Kicking the Seat's latest "Send Me to The Movies" poll. After hearing this, my friend, Karen, suggested that my fans might not like me very much.

I'd like to think the voters have a genuine interest in the film and want to know my thoughts on it. Under no circumstances would my dear, dear readers set me up for an awful night at the theatre, eager for a review packed with venom and regret. You see, gang, I live in a world of sunshine and lollipops, far from the cynical, black skies of Cavity Town.

Seriously, though, I didn't have a terrible time at the movie--though the film itself is beyond terrible.

What helped me through 99 minutes of recycled, raunchy rom-com?

Four words: Anna Faris' fake lips.

Okay, four more words: Anna Faris' fake tits.

Wait, here are four more still: Joel McHale's ass-double.

I don't mean to be a pig (not today, anyway), but "What's Your Number?" could just as easily apply to the amount of times the main cast has gone under the knife as the amount of sexual partners the film's characters have had. In fairness to McHale, I'm pretty sure the shots of him waking up in bed sans sous-vêtements featured a stunt-rump (sideburns = dead giveaway)--so, yeah, I'm mainly going after Faris (aka Scary Movie Barbie).

Why "go after" Faris at all? Well, I've got to have something to write about, don't I?

Also, I'm convinced that the problem at the heart of What's Your Number? is that, like the character she plays, Faris has fallen for the rampant societal sexism that bogusly assumes women must act and look a certain way to either get ahead or find true love. Movies like these, even the ones written and directed by women, do more to harm their target audience than to help them. They paint women as insecure, materialistic harpies whose lives would be perfect if they could just land the perfect man, move into the perfect condo, and wear the perfect couture dress down the aisle in their storybook wedding (similarly, movies like The Hangover and Hall Pass denigrate men with storylines involving hedonistic, arrested-development pursuits of wealth, drugs and twenty-something tail).

But this is just light, fluffy escapism, right?

Sure, if you're a Kardashian. For the sentient and self-respecting, however, What's Your Number? is a puzzling exercise in excess whose wise inclusion of Chris Evans in the cast is the only thing that prevents it from being this year's Sex and the City 2. Faris stars as Ally Darling (I shit you not), a Boston resident of unspecified age who breaks up with her latest dipshit boyfriend the same week she gets fired from her marketing job. She reads a Marie Claire article on what the number of sexual partners a woman has says about her as a person.

After some quick jotting, she realizes she's slept with nineteen men, a fact she finds sufficiently whorish. Ally vows to give up promiscuity and save the twenty-spot for her future husband. To accomplish this, she enlists the aid of her across-the-hall neighbor--a womanizing, wannabe musician named Colin (Evans)-- to help track down all of her exes. She figures that among the puppeteer, the politician, the exuberant foodie, and the rest of her fling-filled rogues gallery, at least one of her conquests might be both single and far removed from the immature "phases" that caused her to dump them in the first place.

I won't spoil the ending by telling you who she ends up with,** but I'll share some other surprises. What's Your Number? features a wedding, a dress-shopping scene, a drunken engagement toast, a gaggle of naughty bridesmaids, and lots of "just the tip" jokes. The cynical part of me thinks this whole movie is really a 99-minute infomercial for Kristen Wiig's summer blockbuster (now available On-Demand and in stunning blu-ray high-def!), but I'm pretty sure it's just a case of genre tropes laid bare--the same way the worst slasher movies disregard motivation and character in favor of fake boobs and CGI gore.

Speaking of fake boobs, let's get back to Faris. At some point (recently, I believe), she got some work done. Whether you want to blame a superficial Hollywood culture that insists a woman of thirty-five look "younger" in order to stay on top (or, in Faris' case, a comfy middle), or just a series of bad decisions on the actress's part, the fact is that her looks have become distracting. While I was busy not laughing at co-writers Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden's "jokes", I was scrutinizing the downright bizarre behavior of Faris' lips.

She didn't go the Lisa Rinna route and have floatation devices installed on her face. Instead, she paid for what appear to be mini-Botox-injections on each side of her mouth, puffing up the top part instead of the pink of her lips--giving every smile a novocaine-overdose quality. She's had other modifications, too, such as the aforementioned boob job--as evidenced by the gravity-defying firmness on display in scenes where she's clearly not wearing a bra. In short, the last decade has seen Anna Faris go from looking like the girl next door to one of Hugh Hefner's Girls Next Door (appropriate, I guess, for the star of The House Bunny***).

This is all very mean, but no meaner than making hard-working people pay for sexist, humorless garbage that some marketing tool has the balls to call "entertainment". The only reason I wasn't outright offended and bored by the film was because I had so much fun guessing what procedure Faris had done to which body part, as well as playing Sir Alec Guinness' famous Darth Vader quote about being "more machine than man" on a loop in my head. I also appreciated Chris Evans' dopey, inevitable-boyfriend (Oops!) routine. He has so much fun in this movie being naked and hypocritically calling Faris a crazy ho-bag (paraphrasing here) that I wondered why he couldn't have spared some of that free-wheeling charm for Captain America.

This sort of brings up the age-old issue of whether or not women are as funny as men. I don't think there's a distinction to be made, but you wouldn't know that from looking at the films marketed to each sex. Maybe because raunchy female comedies are still in their infancy, their creators spend too much time shouting "Vagina!" from the highest rooftop instead of actually saying anything original or, dare I say, funny. You don't see male-centric comedies where men talk about jock-itch or power-tools for hours on end. So why can't someone get a true girl-power movie off the ground? One in which jokes about PMS, cookie-dough ice cream, and appletinis with the girls are considered so insultingly elementary that they're scrapped after the first draft?

I hope the reason these witless chick flicks are so ubiquitous is because they're cheap enough to produce that even a halfway decent opening weekend guarantees the species' survival. The other possibility is almost too depressing to consider: that there's a large, hard-core audience for this kind of film, one that views the struggles and triumphs of these desperate, ditzy heroines as some kind of wish-fulfillment. I guess living that kind of sad, unexamined life might drive me to get rid of the real parts of myself, too.

*Some have called it a "break from reality".

**Of course I'm kidding!

***Ironic, too, 'cause the point of that movie was valuing what's inside over superficial ideas about beauty.