Saturday, 8 October 2011

REVIEW: What's Your Number

Women, the 21st guy is the new Scarlet Letter. Let's make this happen.

Here's the thing. I think I've probably spent more time bashing on Romantic comedies on here then any other genre. I don't apologize for this, nor do I believe that I've targeted these films unfairly and it's just my manly agenda and desire to see manly things such as shouting and violence as opposed to girly emotions and love. I think that in theory, the romantic comedy could be my favorite genre, or at least tie with horror. Because right down their very specific DNA, Romantic comedies are about character. They are movies entirely about how two people relate to each other, and how there various problems effect that relationship. In theory that sounds awesome, that's going to have so much more depth and value than a run of the mill action movie.

The problem with this of course is that mainstream genre releases tend to be cynical, they tend to be formed out of what pitches well, what you can sell people on. It's hard to sell people on a movie about two people talking to each other and falling in love. You have to be like this....

" So there's this bitch right, and she's about to sleep with her 20th guy, and like oh my god, that would make her an S-L-U-T slut, so she totally goes through her all her old boyfriends to find the one, so she doesn't have to sleep with a 21st guy because then she'd be a Super Ho. Say What?"

And therein lies the rub. You can't approach a romantic comedy as if it were a thriller. A thriller can survive this cynical way of thinking because the point is to take you on a ride, and the characters are there to service that ride, but with a romantic comedy the characters are the ride and the movie just can't be put together on a high concept and a formula and not be excreble. It needs to be genuinely funny, and it needs to be genuinely romantic, and if you think about all the time that is wasted on explaining that premise, on setting that premise in motion and eventually dismantling that premise, well that's 30 minutes of screen-time you could have spent on getting to know these characters, instead of making them cheap, recognizable ciphers.

I actually didn't hate What's Your Number all that much. Sure, It's got the cynical poster serving premise, but it also has two likable leads and at least glimpses at an ability to be funny that navigate around the groan worthy moments. Of which there are admittedly quite a few. The film starts out pretty atrociously, with star Anna Faris over-acting pretty shamelessly and the whole thing coming across very manic and silly. I'd say once the growing pains are dispensed with, Faris and co-star Chris Evans work pretty well together, Evans has always been a slightly under-rated comedian, and I imagine the whole Captain America thing might make that disappear even more but he's a good fit for films like this.

Ultimately though the end doesn't really live up to the middle and it goes the way every single one of these films has to go and you just tune out. It's not the worst romantic comedy you've seen in recent years but rather one of the better bad ones. It has the same fundamental problems as say Leap Year, but it is not quite as gloriously consumed by them as that movie was. Instead it is just good enough to not be memorable. There are some nice supporting turns by the likes of Joel McHale, Martin Freeman and Anthony Mackie, but yeah.

Rating: 4/10

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