Review: 'What's Your Number?'

(One-and-a-half stars)

Print media may be facing dire challenges, but you wouldn't know it from romantic comedies. Hollywood still treats women's magazines as works of Biblical importance to the American woman; take, for example, "What's Your Number?", in which a woman downsized from her marketing position reconceptualizes her life after flipping through a Marie Claire.

Anna Faris plays Ally Darling (awww...), whose Boston subway ride is ruined when Marie Claire tells her the average number of lovers an American woman has in her lifetime is 10.5. Aghast at having nearly doubled that total -- and shamed by her younger sister's impending marriage -- Ally resolves to stop sleeping with men until she finds "the one." That's a tall order for a girl who likes a few drinks on the town (and the sex that tends to follow), but Ally decides she won't give "yes" for an answer.

Ally bonds with her womanizing across-the-hall neighbor Colin (Chris "Captain America" Evans) when they help each other ditch dates, prompting Ally to offer a trade: her apartment as a hideout from booty calls in exchange for Colin's help digging up her old flames. Perhaps, she reasons, they're worthy of a hookup for old time's sake (after all, exes won't add to her total) or even the ultimate hookup: marriage.

Ally's old boyfriends prove mostly unavailable or unmarriageable, but we learn in the process that Ally has slept with modern comedy's B-list, including Andy Samberg, Chris Pratt, Thomas Lennon and Martin Freeman. Finally, Ally reconnects with prized bachelor Jake Adams (Dave Annable), and since this is a strictly boilerplate rom com, we're to pretend that, like Ally, we don't see the obvious: Her true love is the man right under her nose, the confident but surprisingly sweet Colin. Yes, with sex out of the equation, Ally and Colin get to know and love each other.

Based on Karen Bosnak's novel "20 Times a Lady," "What's Your Number?" is frothy and predictable, occasionally annoying (the persistent, pandering Facebook and Twitter jokes), but a crowd pleaser for those who don't blanche at the term "chick flick." Aimed at the young and restless by a TV-bred director and screenwriters, the picture doesn't seem much to mind that it's disposable, instead focusing on cheerily crude sex talk and getting Faris and Evans out of their clothes at every possible opportunity (we're talking every other scene, folks).

So director Mark Mylod knows which side his bread is buttered on, and he takes as much advantage of Faris' comic chops as the script allows. It's sad that the 34-year-old Faris seems to have resorted to face-altering plastic surgery, but she remains every inch a comedienne of the Lucy school, powering scenes like the one in which she fakes her way through a bad British accent or the one in which she pounds away at a leg that's fallen asleep.

It's just that she and Evans deserve better than a string of rom-com cliches, including the surprise date in a closed sports arena. Unless you're Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, it couldn't happen to you.

Rated R for sexual content and language. 1 hour, 47 minutes.

— Peter Canavese

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