Although ‘What’s Your Number?’ is impossibly generic, hopelessly contrived and formulaic beyond reason, there’s still something appealing about Anna Faris landing the lead role in her own romantic comedy. She’s primarily known for her goofiness, likely never to shake her Scary Movie image, and is no different here. However, the premise is that of a typical romance; her dumbfounded aloofness, naïve dewy eyes, and perpetually cheerful attitude add a certain spontaneity and element of surprise. Just as anything can happen in a Scary Movie, so too can random, idiotic, and completely out-of-place events occur without warning when Faris is at the helm of a straightforward comedy.
Ally Darling (Anna Faris) is becoming concerned that she might never find “Mr. Right.” Her sister Daisy (Ari Graynor) is getting married and her mother Ava (Blythe Danner) seems insistent that Ally move forward with her life as well. During a ride on the subway, she spies a magazine article revealing the national average of sexual partners for women: 10.5. Her friends range between four and nine, while she worries about her seemingly large number of 19. She decides not to surpass 20, which the reporter analyzed as a breaking point that finds women unable to land a husband. Her very next beau must be the man she’ll be with forever.
She has a habit of trying too hard to impress her male companions, worries about how others might view her promiscuity, winds up accidentally sleeping with the boss who just fired her (#20), and loathes her next door neighbor, Colin Shea (Chris Evans, graduating from superhero to an unemployed musician fancying strumming in nothing but briefs), who beds a new woman every night. Nonetheless, she hatches a plot to locate all of her ex-boyfriends to see which ones might have evolved into husband material. She enlists the help of Colin in exchange for an apartment to hide in while he waits for his previous nights’ conquest to vacate in the morning, never to be seen again (his “number” is in the several hundreds).
There’s nothing new about the story, which plays out in an absolutely expected fashion. Ally and Colin spend an ample amount of time together, the last ex on her list is wealthy and attractive (money is sexy) and adored by her mother, and slowly but surely, she falls for the kind-hearted boy next door. This unfolding of events couldn’t have been more nonexclusive, filled with sexual jokes, Facebook/Twitter references, suggestive music butting into the frame, romantic comedy clichés, and both Faris and Evans in a constant state of undress (not so much for humor as just for the sake of nakedness). Most of the fun comes from discovering what farcical situation has overcome each of Ally’s former lovers. Fortunately, a few ridiculous flashbacks allow Faris to play dress-up and shed some light on her previous periods of absurdity, and some fleeting verbal humor pokes its way into the most inopportune moments, creating impulsive genuine hilarity. What’s Your Number? wouldn’t possess the same lowered expectations and unlikely amusement had it not been for Faris, scripted to say off-color things viewers wish other contemporary comedy heroines would blurt out on a whim.