During the opening scene of What’s Your Number?, Ally (Anna Faris), creeps out of bed to pretty herself, then creeps back in to intercept a compliment from the man waking next to her. It’s a scene virtually identical to the opening moments of Bridesmaids, the influence of which pervades Number, down to matching romantic climaxes at other people’s weddings. A poor man’s version it may be, but if Number is an indicator of a Bridesmaids trickle-down effect within the rom-com genre, it’s arguably a step in a preferable direction.
While recent films like Friends with Benefits have mocked the clichés of rom-coms, Number embraces them. Witness Ally’s over-the-top bonding montage with leading man Colin (Chris Evans), in which they play a romantic game of strip H-O-R-S-E before taking a life-affirming skinny dip. Beyond the fantasy fodder, Number also giddily dispatches with pesky real-life trappings—within the first 10 minutes Ally is relieved of employment, a matter that pales in urgency compared with her quest to track down every man she’s ever slept with. A familiar conceit to be sure, the impetus for this retrospective is to avoid increasing her “number”—the number of men she’s bedded—by revisiting those she’s already had. The driving force behind this anxiety? An article stating the average “number” as 10.5 compared to Ally’s shocking 19 (bitch, please).
Fans of Faris will feel a twinge that Number’s not as funny as it could be, and is bogged halfway down in cliché. On the positive side, Ally is relatable as a quirky dork, even if her diet of beer, pizza, hot dogs, and Chinese takeout never seems to necessitate a trip to the gym. In the big picture, Number is still a sign of progress—flawed, but I’ll take it.