Saturday, October 08, 2011

What's Your Number?

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I wonder if any girl out there really do sneak off from the bed to the bathroom to freshen up, before their partner wakes up to see them in a state sans hair all over the place, morning breath and probably a drool hanging off somewhere. At least it's something that's worth putting on film, in both Bridesmaids and What's Your Number, where the protagonist does just that to impress I suppose. Maybe everyone does it and it's life's greatest secret that I'm oblivious to.

While Bridesmaids was a sleeper hit with a cast of relative unknowns on the big screen, What's Your Number is that typical romantic comedy where you can safely bet your entire fortune on the nice little outcome of an ending, and just about how girl meets boy and they fall in love inevitably in the shortest time span possible where the stars align for everything magical to happen. What's probably unique here is that the lead characters are both promiscuous, with Anna Faris' Ally sleeping with at least 19 men in her life so far, and finding that her lack of a love life and with random lovers every now and then going way over the national average of 10.5, the magic figure an average American woman dates before finally settling down. Fearful of being labelled a slut after a straw poll conducted with her soon-to-be-married sister Daisy (Ari Graynor) and friends, she's taking a vow of celibacy and is determined to make the next person she sleeps with, her husband.

Chris Evans' Colin is her next door neighbour whom she enlists her from in tracking down her exes, since there could be someone from her past who would have made it good, and better yet, doing so doesn't increase her number of men she slept with, which provides plenty of comical flashbacks providing Anna Faris an opportunity to ham it up, together with a select group of supporting characters, some of whom are completely different from the time she once knew them, while others will make you wonder just what she saw in them, ranging from support acts by the likes of Martin Freeman, Andy Samberg, Anthony Mackie and even Zachary Quinto amongst others. Ally strikes a win-win deal with Colin, centered around being able to hideout at her apartment so that he doesn't have to deal in the aftermath of his one night stands, making a clean exit and sending a signal to his flings it's all over. Talk about a mutually beneficial relationship that you know will head somewhere between the two.

And if the film works, which it does, it boils down to two words. Anna Faris. She's building a career based upon ditzy characters, and frankly she's finding a knack at hitting on all the right places and delivering punchlines without missing a beat, and having what it takes to take on physical, slapstick comedy without looking too dorky, nor embarrassed with the need to dabble in toilet humour. It's watching a quintessential comedian going through her repertoire of tricks that on one hand you've seen most before, yet still eagerly anticipating more from the performer to deliver her routine once more. Evans was wonderful as her co-star and the strip-basketball date was something that could raise temperatures, allowing the actor to continuously show off in this film his Captain America buffed up physique that will either make you drool at, or look on with envy.

For all the glossy fashion rags teaching women how to lead their lives, perhaps this movie says it best with the aged old message of happiness being able to be oneself, instead of living up to expectations set by others, be it friends or family, and to find someone who will accept you for who you are, and not what you have to try to be. Which is very frequent in Ally's life as the various man-hunt episodes reveal, where she has to learn to cook, speak with an accent, and so on. And it's true how miserable one will be in the long run, despite short termed bliss, if one can call it as that.

I was half expecting a wicked twist to happen at the final act since there's an elusive Jake Adams (Dave Annable) that Ally is desperately looking for which Colin constantly runs into zilch in his findings, and what played out was pretty straightforward, and careful as well since it took some pains to explicitly address a plot loophole that you'll forgive it for since that will spell some anti-climatic finale. But as I said, what held the movie together is Anna Faris as the one woman tour de force playing to her strengths in a typical stereotyped role, and the very easy on screen chemistry shared with Chris Evans. Definitely a date-movie any couple can consider.

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