Review of and Defense of What’s Your Number

I truly wanted to see this opening weekend because I love Anna Faris, but grad school and a series of bad reviews got in the way. Finally made it out to see the last Sunday night showing- probably before they yank it away from theaters.  I thought it would kind of be like The Ex List, with Elizabeth Reaser, the tv show I liked that got cancelled after a few episodes.  Yes, the conceit of the magazine article seemed quite ridiculous too- why would a woman let such a thing mentally block her? But- just go with it.

The previews/trailers didn’t do it justice. The whole, “I’ll help you hide from your girlfriends if you help me find my exes” thing between Ally and her neighbor Colin (Chris Evans) didn’t jive. It wasn’t until you find out that his dad was a cop and he knows how to track people down did that make any sense.

Strangely enough, the movie opens exactly like Bridesmaids did- Ally goes to the bathroom to freshen up before her guy wakes up just like Wiig’s Annie does.  I’ll tell you how What’s Your Number differs from BridesmaidsBrides tries to appeal to a male audience with barfing and diarrhea. That’s great for teen boys and dudes who never grew up- so it worked. WYN worked on the women’s front.  I wanted to like Bridesmaids, but hated it the first time around. It’s grown on me since. My initial opinion was that Wiig’s character was really alienating, off-putting and way too into herself, as opposed to Faris’ character’s self deprecation and natural silliness, which I found more relatable.

WYN’s previews make the protagonist, Ally, look like she gives a shit about the numbers, but it’s really a piece about a woman who doesn’t care, but feels pressured to, and how damaging articles in women’s magazines can be.  Ally obviously comes from the school of ‘Do Me Feminism’ and we see her low self esteem moments- what woman hasn’t had them? Assuming, she’s smart and always safe- does a woman have to seriously contemplate every sexual encounter?

Compared to other rom-coms, Ally is realistic and the Anne Hathaway characters out there are prudish, scrubbed and safe for puritanical American consumption. Women are trapped into still acting “pure”. The evidence? Articles in The New Scientist and AskMen even- where women lie- play down the number of sexual partners they have because they’re afraid of being judged – like Ally does at first in the movie.  We’re shamed for some reason into pretending we didn’t have certain conquests that we did.  Rare is the female character who is unapologetic about it like Samantha on Sex and the City.  Men wear their numbers like a badge of their testosterone levels.

What would’ve helped? Probably better trailers and better marketing, but– As cheesy as the exposition was in Crazy Stupid Love with Ryan Gosling’s character on why he’s such a player, it worked- you find out why he’s a man whore with low self esteem- his mom was cold and aloof, yada yada. With Colin we don’t know much about his psychology except that his dad worked a lot and didn’t take him to as many ball games as he would’ve liked.  Also, bestiality talk still isn’t that palatable- and there was some of it- about a dog in WYN. Cutting that would’ve been nice, but I see also that it shows how desperate some people are.  The strip basketball scene and the clay carvings were both- ehh.

WYN breaks some conventions nicely. Brides shows Annie always going back to the asshole, the playa (played by Jon Hamm). It wants her to be with the safe, nice, caring cop. In WYN, Colin has an equal in Ally. She’s on his level. She’s a dude who’s banged a string of people too. He’s flawed. She’s flawed and they accept each other. In the end, Annie conforms more than Ally does.

Neither Ally or Colin are society’s “safe” and “acceptable” mates.  Emma Stone’s character in Crazy Stupid Love is- she’s perfect- in law school and cool.  She’s presentable.  Why shouldn’t women have “hoes in area codes” and then try to find out if they maybe missed a needle in a hay stack? Men do in the movies and “the one” they find just consents to it.

I don’t think America could wrap their heads around certain things in WYN. It opens with talking about doggie style sex and then moves onto a discussion anal later.

The ending begins with Ally yelling that she’s a “jobless whore” and ending up with her man whore neighbor (which we saw coming, but didn’t expect in this way).  There’s also the scene where Colin and Ally walk to an “open house” and they talk about the type of woman who you can take home to your family, [bake an apple pie with your mom- or something–a list of characteristics I forget- will have to get a hold of the script] who’ll then take off her glasses and “fuck you sideways”. Colin says, “This woman doesn’t exist”.  She only exists on a show like New Girl or movies written by men.  Here, I think the writers are referring to the manic pixie dream girl again. Kudos to the writers of WYN for this. It’s ridiculous that women have to try to shoe-horn themselves into certain molds.  In WYN, Ally escapes this conformity and confinement by “being herself”.  WYN WYN.

Look at the posters for WYN

Visual rhetoric here:  Ally’s on top of the numbers. She has a man behind her.

Btw, the runner with Chris Pratt (Faris’ real life husband) in WYN is hilarious.

Liked Mylod’s directing.

Ally’s series of mishaps with guys is a riot- all the past Allys had us rolling.

You’ll have to see it. Viva la “jobless whore”.

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