What's Your Number?
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First, let's talk about the title.
What's Your Number? isn't asking for your phone number. Anna Faris has no plans to call you. It does not refer to your sleep number. The director doesn't care. It's not delving into some sort of mystical numerology system outlined in ancient Kabalistic texts or whatnot. The script has less esoteric matters on the brain.
No, What's Your Number? references the title of a magazine article that asks its readers (and, by natural extension, moviegoers) how many lovers they've had. And according to said article, the answer is that the average woman sleeps with 10.5 people before settling into a nice, more-or-less lifelong relationship.
Shocked? Appalled? You're not the only one. Ally Darling was positively floored when she read the number. Somewhere between 10 and 11? Really? That … low?
Trembling, Ally tabulates her litany of lovers and discovers that she's up to 19—from the pimply guy she lost her virginity with to the eco-minded dude she shared a bed with the night before. "You know if you just want to hook up, just call me," he says before he pedals out of her life forever.
Worse news yet: According to this troublesome magazine, most women whose numbers climb above 20 never find a suitable mate. Why oh why did I ever learn to read?! You can almost feel Ally lamenting.
But read she can, and read she did. So Ally—something of a literalist, it would seem—makes a drunken vow that she'll never sleep with another guy unless she's sure he's "the one." Never again will she partake in wanton physical pleasure just for fun. Never again will she—
The next morning, Ally finds No. 20 sleeping next to her. He's her former boss who just fired her the previous day and has a penchant for smelling his privates. (Sorry. I'm just reporting this stuff the way it happens onscreen.)
Having hit the magazine's mystical number that separates "normal" people from the, well, more sexually indiscriminate, Ally decides she has just one last recourse: go back through her previous lovers and marry one of 'em. And so she quickly enlists her hunky neighbor Colin to help with the search. Twenty's a long list right? Somebody's gotta be lifelong relationship material … right?
As you might be able to guess already, there's not a great deal of positivity to be found in What's Your Number? But there is one small kernel of goodness to be fished out of this cinematic lint trap:
Throughout the film, Ally puts on airs to impress her once-and-future lovers. With an Englishman, she assumes a British accent. She tries to impress a politician with a crisp business suit, and she takes to loitering in a law library. At every turn, she tries to attract a mate by being what she thinks he wants her to be … until she finally finds someone who loves her for who she is.
"I'm happiest when I'm myself, and I'm myself when I'm with you," she tells her eventual beau. That's a good lesson for us all, really. When entering into what will hopefully be a forever relationship, it's absolutely necessary.
In a movie like this, it's almost impossible to tabulate the precise number of sexual situations, images or allusions. But, in honor of the film's title, I will at least attempt a brief, numerically minded rundown:
Number of scenes in which moviegoers see naked people. There is no full frontal nudity at any juncture, but Ally and a companion are shown, from the back and side, jumping into the harbor. We also see Ally hop out of a shower.
Scenes in which there is partial or suggested nudity. The rumps of men and women are shown. Colin opens his apartment door and stands in the hallway, holding a towel in front of his bare midsection. At one point he lifts the fabric to his face, exposing himself to Ally but not to viewers.
Simulated sex scene, in which explicit movements are seen. It's a flashback to Ally's first sexual encounter, meaning that both she and her lover are likely underage. (Both are mostly clothed.)
Abbreviated sex scene. Ally and a man engage in serious foreplay (pants are undone, etc.) before Ally stops the proceedings to prevent her tally from hitting 21. Still, the two continue to cuddle and kiss, Ally's shirt partially open.
Game of strip basketball, in which players get down to their underwear.
Insert random number here. I lost count of the times we see Ally walking around in her panties. We also see Colin wearing just a pair of boxers a few times.
1.5. Homosexual characters. One of Ally's former lovers is a now a gay politician looking for a "beard" (aka a female political partner he can marry for the furtherance of his career). We also hear about Julie, a lesbian love interest from Ally's past who's now a man.
References to bestiality. One of Ally's downstairs neighbors apparently tried to marry his dog.
Reference to quasi-incest. One of Ally's partners was her stepcousin.
Illicit cartoon depiction of a male body part used as a computer screen saver.
Gynecologist who recognizes former lover Ally not by her name or face, but by her vagina. (Note: She changes into sexy underwear before entering the examination room.)
Countless. References to different types of sexual acts, positions, partners, proclivities and body parts.
Ally breaks a glass during a drunken toast. A spurned lover pushes people out of his way. Ally accidentally sets her hair extensions on fire.
Crude or Profane Language
About 20 f-words, including several by kids who've been "accidentally" taught the word by a frustrated Ally. (We hear them chant the word as they run around and play.) There are another 15 or so s-words, and several uses of "a‑‑," "b‑‑ch" and "h‑‑‑." "Douche" and "bloody" also make appearances. God's name is misused about 10 times; Jesus' three times.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Perhaps Ally wouldn't have so many love troubles if she didn't drink so much. Just a thought. She guzzles champagne out of a bottle while giving a toast to her engaged sister, then she and her sister and their girlfriends go out to a nightclub and drink some more. The group does a variety of shots, after which Ally makes her pledge, dances on the bar and eventually hooks up with her former boss. Only when he grabs her breast in his sleep does she remember he's there.
Other Negative Elements
Ally lies to almost everyone, and almost all the time. She lies to her mother, her boyfriends and her girlfriends. The only person she doesn't lie to seems to be Colin—but he eventually lies to her. You could argue that all this lying is necessary for Ally's character … but you could argue a whole lot of things I wouldn't care much about. Ally also steals a delivery bike, and perhaps a car.
People talk about going to the bathroom.
The curtain finally falls on What's Your Number? And when it does, we find that Ally has herself fallen for someone who she ironically spurned at first for being too cavalier with his sexual favors. As such, we see the union of the proverbial pot and kettle.
"I'm a jobless whore who's slept with 20 guys," she tells him. "I want a guy who appreciates that about me."
It's a joke, but it's semi-serious too: In the end, the film suggests we shouldn't worry about the numbers. Love's not about that.
In a way, I get it. While 1, not 10.5 is the ideal number of lovers we should have during our lifetimes, I understand that love can be a messy thing. Hormones happen. Priorities shift. Sometimes we must accept and forgive a person's past in order to look forward to a better, brighter future together.
But accepting and embracing are two very different things. And make no mistake, this film embraces promiscuity. It tells us that it's normal to have several partners—desirable, even. No one who plays Ally's "what's your number?" game has fewer than four lovers, and when someone else says they had eight, she quips, "I'm twice the woman you are."
The idea of purity amongst the young, hip and unmarried? That, the movie tells us, is the stuff of real comedy.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Anna Faris as Ally; Chris Evans as Colin; Ari Graynor as Daisy; Blythe Danner as Ava; Dave Annable as Jake Adams
Mark Mylod ( )
20th Century Fox
September 30, 2011
January 10, 2012