You've seen What's Your Number? before. Sure, it's rated R, and yes, it has two strong young leads, but it's basically every romantic comedy culled together over the past three decades. There will be no variation from exactly what you expect, and so enjoyment must be attained from the particulars of the journey. Which it does, at times, thanks to the uber-likable Chris Evans and Anna Faris.
Ally Darling (Anna Faris) is an admittedly wacky girl. Just the sort you build a romantic comedy around! Her sister is about to get married, and you can tell Ally marches to the beat of a different drummer because her engagement party toast is a little off. She drinks a little too much, she sculpts odd little demons in her free time, and she's recently become worried about her sexual proclivities. When she reads in a magazine that the average lady person has 10 "relationships" before marriage and realizes she's sitting pretty at 20, she becomes concerned. Is she doomed to an existence of casual dalliances? A life change is needed!
What would you do in this particular situation? Therapy? Reactivate that gym membership? Join your local rotary club? Drink yourself into a stupor? Now pretend you're in a romantic comedy. Ah, it's all different now, isn't it? All of a sudden you want to systematically find all of your exes to figure out if one of them was "the one," don't you? I see that look in your eyes, you minxy little rom-com. Twenty exes it is. Cue up the expository pop music.
The search for exes is precisely where Chris Evans comes in. He's the next-door neighbor, who just so happens to be handy with research. He offers to trade his investigative services in exchange for Ally's help in getting rid of the oodles of models he sleeps with who want to "talk" with him the morning after the hook-up. And who hasn't been there?!
This, of course, is a completely ludicrous setup, because none of this has ever happened to anyone, anywhere, ever, throughout the history of the universe. At no point did any living being ever say, "I will now find my 20 previous mates." A little light Facebook stalking, sure, no problem -- but all 20 exes? Furthermore, at no point did a male of a species sleep with a model of the same species and not know how to talk with her for a few minutes once the sun came up. The very skills one would need to date models would be those same skills that would prove handy in the morning: charm, levity, and the ability to manage tricky situations. It reminds me of that scene from Airplane:
Rex Kramer: Do you know what it's like to fall in the mud and get kicked in the head with an iron boot?
Of course you don't, no one does. It never happens. Sorry, Ted, that's a dumb question ... skip that.
Still, the show must go on, and chuckles must be had, and in fairness What's Your Number? has at least a dozen of those. Anna Faris is absolutely heroic in her comedic method; she's willing to head straight for site gags, take on massive embarrassment, and generally look the fool on a level most leading ladies wouldn't deign to show us. In this manner she truly is the funniest actor in the business because she's the most human, the most authentic, and she needs it the most. You can tell Faris craves laughs, and so it's incredibly easy to root for her, and by extension, her character. And so while What's Your Number? isn't innovative, dynamic, or anything other than completely predictable, it does provide a few laughs. Which is sort of the point. No, it's not Bridemaids, or The Other Guys, or any of the other massively funny comedies we've seen over the past few years, but it's not all bad either. It's somewhere in the middle, a tweener, slightly above average, bolstered by bawdiness but hindered by banalities.