Case Number 23292: Small Claims Court


Fox // 2011 // 117 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge P.S. Colbert // February 9th, 2012

The Charge

Can 19 wrongs make Mr. Right?

The Case

Sometimes it's the singer, not the song.

Take the case of What's Your Number?, a deliberately crass, potty-mouthed cinematic romp based on a witless premise: Girl-in-her-thirties Ally Darling (Anna Faris, The House Bunny) reads a magazine article which informs her that, due to nothing more than the number of sexual partners she's had, she is in fact a giant hoo-er, destined to remain single and loveless.

"I see it in my practice all the time," confirms a gal pal. "When you're too sexually available, it messes with your self-esteem. Next thing you know, you're 45 with no self-respect, no husband, and no muscle-tone in your pelvic floor."

Heady stuff, eh? But ever resourceful, our girl-in-her-thirties espies an exploitable loophole. According to the almighty article, 96% of women who have been with 20 or more lovers are doomed, but Ally is still one shy. Aha! Naturally, she concludes the best way to ensure she won't fall into the abyss is by keeping her "tally" at a manageable 19 and re-evaluating all of her ex-boyfriends. With so many men, you'd figure at least one might have improved with age, right?

Not really. Her exes make up a rogues' gallery of sitcomic characters like Gerry Perry (Andy Samberg, Saturday Night Live), the puppeteer; Dr. Barrett (Thomas Lennon, Reno 911!), the absent-minded gynecologist; and "Disgusting Donald," (Chris Pratt, Parks and Recreation) who was so fat (but so sexually satisfying) that Ally was ashamed to be seen in public with him.

This trio was relatively easy to find, but some of the more promising candidates have slipped into the mists of time and Ally needs a way to track them down, which is where next door neighbor Colin (Chris Evans, The Perfect Score) comes in. Colin's an aspiring musician with lots of time on his hands. In constant need of beer/sandwich/takeout money, he's more than prepared to accept a fee for his considerable sleuthing skills. The extremely handsome Colin is conveniently located, has a magnificent body (he frequently wears nothing but a bath towel), and though he shares Ally's proclivity towards short-lived, sexually-based relationships, and he's the one person who truly "gets" the trollish little chachkis she makes in her spare time, there's no way she's gonna get wit him. Nada chance. Never gonna happen. Right.

What's Your Number? was pilloried by critics, when it committed the apparently unpardonable sin of following the release of Bridesmaids, another deliberately crass, potty-mouthed, cinematic romp based on a witless premise. To be sure, Bridesmaids is an infinitely superior film, populated by fully fleshed-out characters and dirty humor that consistently delivers. But What's Your Number doesn't aspire to much more than being a female gross-out comedy. And even there, it fails.

As sometimes happens, many critics went positively hyperbolic, charging this sophomoric rom-com with ridiculous crimes, like sending "the modern feminist movement back to the dark ages," (Cole Smithey, and that the "lighting, camerawork, and editing are all a slapdash mess." (Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly) Oh, come on! It's not as if this movie got Roe v. Wade or the 19th Amendment overturned. What's Your Number? was commissioned by a major studio with enough money to hire people smart enough to know about removing the lens caps and turning on the lights.

For a lucid, detailed, and sensible accounting of this film's structural weaknesses, I heartily recommend reading DVD Verdict's own Judge Patrick Bromley, who previously reviewed the Blu-ray version. There is nothing I can dispute or add to Judge Bromley's account, except that I seemed to enjoy What's Your Number? more than he did, primarily due to valorous efforts by Faris and Evans in the leading roles.

As I've said: Sometimes it's the singer, not the song.

I don't know that you can put it down to anything more concrete than the charisma of this talented pair, but this movie shouldn't be discounted, as both actors have carved out career niches for themselves by making magic with roles that would deem mere mortal thespians to obscurity -- Lost In Translation and Observe And Report for Faris, and Not Another Teen Comedy and Captain America: The First Avenger for Evans. Furthermore, without the comic clout of co-writers Gabrielle Allen (Scrubs), Jennifer Crittenden (Seinfeld), and director Mark Mylod (Entourage), this paper-thin "high concept" comedy would be entirely laughless, as opposed to being merely tasteless.

Fox has done a fine job with its 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation and 5.1 Dolby Surround, delivering every R-Rated sight and syllable with perfect clarity. We also get a French language 2.0 stereo track and an Descriptive English option. Spanish and English SDH subtitles have also been provided, giving a good many linguists around the world a chance to get in on the smutty jokes.

Extras here have to do with just how much of this movie you're in the mood for, by offering a choice between the 106 minute theatrical release and the unrated extended cut of the film, which clocks in at 117 minutes. There are also a handful of deleted scenes, which make the film...even longer.

I'm constantly hearing moviegoers defensively argue that they prefer watching movies they don't have to think about. Moviegoers, your prayers have been answered.

The Verdict

Sure, What's Your Number? could have and should have aimed higher, but by deliberately aiming low, it hits its mark.

Review content copyright © 2012 P.S. Colbert; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 82

Perp Profile
Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English, Descriptive)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (French)

* English (SDH)
* Spanish

Running Time: 117 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks
* Theatrical Cut
* Deleted Scenes
* Trailer

* IMDb

* Official Site