5 Reasons to Rent “What’s Your Number?”

My friend Bryce always says that the key to enjoying a movie is going into it with low expectations (I think Confucius says the same thing about life in general). Today, Bryce was proven right yet again.

Every once in a while I put a movie on the top of my Netflix queue even though I’m pretty sure I’m not going to like it. I’m a sucker for sci-fi action movies and romantic comedies, so many of them fall into that category. I know I’m going to rip them apart, but I have to see them anyway.

I’m particularly critical about rom coms because I love the genre so much. I even wrote a rom-com screenplay a few years ago because I thought I could do better than all the cliches and contrived plot twists that dilute the market. Most rom coms follow the exact same structure: two people that you never end up liking lie to each other for most of the movie, suddenly realize that they actually love each other, and create false urgency by chasing each other down at the end to profess their love. Blah.

So I’m happy to report to you that for the first time since Definitely, Maybe, I’ve stumbled upon a rom com that absolutely surprised and delighted me: What’s Your Number?, with Anna Faris and Chris Evans.

In the movie, Faris plays a 20-something who realizes that she’s slept with twice as many men as the national average, and so she vows to track down those men to see if they have more potential than when they dated in the hopes that she can find love without having to increase her number. She’s assisted by her neighbor (Evans), a promiscuous man who is really good at locating people.

Here are 5 reasons why you should rent this movie:

  1. You’ll laugh. How many rom coms have you seen where you chuckle once or twice and that’s it? They’re all rom and no com. I belly laughed a half dozen times in this movie, and I was often smiling, chuckling, or even chortling. Chortling, people!
  2. You’ll believe in love. I think maybe this is why I watch rom coms. I want to believe in true love. Not that I don’t believe it–I see people around me in love every day–but effective rom coms like What’s Your Number? make me feel like true love is possible for me.
  3. You’ll like the characters. Not only are Faris and Evans extremely likable, but they’re surrounded by a supporting cast of people who you would like as your friends. How many rom coms have you seen where the woman’s best friend is ridiculously annoying or the guy and his group of friends are absolutely disgusting? Not in this movie.
  4. You’ll feel the chemistry. There are three back-to-back scenes in this movie where you can feel the chemistry. The tension is palpable, and you will 100% understand why these characters fall for one another. That is so rare, and it was a joy to watch.
  5. You’ll watch something that you haven’t watched before. This goes back to what I was saying about cliches. There are a few predictable elements to the movie, there’s a tiny white lie that’s addressed right away, and there is a chase scene at the end. But the character doing the chase actually acknowledges the ridiculousness of the chase during the chase, which felt fresh and new. I was really, really impressed by the writing. In fact, screenwriters don’t get enough credit. I’m going to IMDB this brilliant person…Gabrielle Allan, Jennifer Crittenden, and Karyn Bosnak (the original novelist), I salute you!

Have you seen this movie? What did you think? Have you been pleasantly surprised by any rom coms lately?

14 thoughts on “5 Reasons to Rent “What’s Your Number?””

  1. 1. We’re going to need to see this screenplay.

    2. I have never figured out why Anna Faris isn’t a bigger star. My take? She’s too funny. (Rest of post censored to prevent hordes of angry females from burning down my mansion.)

    3. Couldn’t agree more on the friends. I highly doubt that many screenwriters have friends. I can never figure out why most movie characters like their friends.

    4. Back to the screenplay. It better not be semi-autobiographical. I read where most early attempts are. Did you make sure the characters spoke for themselves, and not in the way you would speak? Did you ask yourself if your screenplay would interest anyone besides you? Was your number one objective to tell a great story?

    Reply
    • 1. I’m happy to share it with anyone who wants to read a first screenplay.

      2. (this is for Brad and Chelly) I completely agree! I’m a huge fan of Anna Faris, even more so after this movie. I might add her to my list.

      3. Completely agree.

      4. It’s not at all semi-autobiographical (although the characters have quirks and desires that I have), but every character speaks how I speak (or how I’d like to speak if I was quick-witted). I definitely asked myself if the screenplay would interest other people, but at the same time, I wrote it for myself (which I think is correct for a first draft).

      Was my #1 objective to tell a great story? Sadly, no (and that’s a great question–that is THE question that all writers should ask themselves). My #1 objective was to write a non-cliched rom com. To that end I think it’s largely successful.

      Reply
      • According to Blank Slate Press, your number one objective should be to tell a great story, not just a non-cliched rom com. Also, according to BSP, your first attempts at writing are not always your best, so don’t be discouraged!

        Reply
  2. I thought this movie was pretty hilarious. Usually when i go to watch a rom com, all the best scenes have already been shown in the trailer and the movie doesn’t meet my expectations. That wasn’t the case here, i was pleasantly surprised. (I think Anna Faris is one of the funniest actresses in Hollywood and I don’t understand why she isn’t in more movies!)

    Reply
    • Sadly, this is true. I can’t take it back. I’m not sure what other people expect from rom coms, but if you can handle some crude humor, I think people will find this one to be a fresh take on rom coms at the very least.

      Reply
  3. I needed a good movie recommendation – thank you! You’ve not steered me wrong yet.

    On a separate note, have you edited the screen play lately, or is it in it’s original first draft form?

    Reply
    • I’m delighted that I’m pitching a perfect game with movie recommendations for you! Now I feel the pressure…

      The screenplay has gone through minor tweaks, but nothing significant. I’m mostly treating it as something that I had to get out of my system before writing something great. I’m working on a novel right now, but after that I’d like to write a heist script.

      Reply
  4. Okay, so I rented this last night after seeing “Puncture” and deciding I need more of the amazing eye candy that is Chris Evans. And let’s just say that given his “exposure” in this film, he did not disappoint. 🙂

    I knew going in that the film was about a woman who is embarrassed and concerned with her number, a premise that I find a little insulting (especially given that the movie doesn’t really address the fact that the male neighbor sleeps with women right and left and feels no shame about it at all. Yet all of the women in the movie have numbers well below the main character and it’s obvious that they expect her to feel ashamed that she’s slept with so many men. Hello double standard. Especially when one of the old flames states that he doesn’t think she’s slept with anyone besides him, which was on their prom night about 10 years ago. Yeah, that’s realistic. I’m sure he’s slept with plenty of women since then, but she’s supposed to remain celibate? Don’t get me started.). But, I was able to set aside my convictions enough to try to enjoy the movie, which I did. But was it some amazing rom-com that really broke the formula? Eh, not really.

    The biggest rom-com cliché is the one you mention, where the two characters meet at the beginning and dislike each other, but end up falling for each other by the end. Which is exactly what happened in this movie. I guess they didn’t really hate each other, but there was no way that either of them wanted to date the other. And the false urgency to profess their love at the end was stupid, particularly because she left her sister’s wedding to do so. Could you imagine doing that? Would his answer have been any different if she’d waited a few hours?

    However, that’s not to say that I didn’t like it, and for many of the same reasons you did. Anna Faris and Chris Evans have great chemistry, and there were some hilarious moments in the film. Definitely worth the rental.

    Now, if you’re looking for a really unique film recommendation, try “TiMER”. The general premise is this: if you choose, you can get a small implant in your wrist that will countdown the days, hours and minutes until you meet your one true love (but only if they have an implant as well). The main character’s timer is blank because her future mate (whoever he is) must not have one yet. But is that better or worse than her sister’s timer, which states she won’t meet her true love until she’s about 45? What do you do until then? Date even though you know that eventually it won’t work out? How can she not be jealous of her brother, who gets his on his 13th birthday (the earliest it’s allowed—-almost like a rite of passage), and they immediately discover he only has a few days left on his countdown? And how exactly does a 13-year old boy deal with knowing that he’s about to meet his future wife when he’s that young? Do they start dating now and never date anyone else, or go their separate ways knowing that one day they’ll end up together?

    These were all the questions I was pondering while watching the movie, until suddenly something happens to the main character’s timer. I won’t reveal what though—you’ll just have to watch it if you want to find out! It’s definitely a different type of rom-com, and it pushes the boundaries of the genre a little, but I liked that about it. It wasn’t the best movie I’ve ever seen, but I loved the premise. I was still thinking about it days later. Give it a shot if you’re bored one night. For those of you that stream from Netflix, it’s on there.

    Reply
    • Katie–I’m glad you enjoyed it! Overall, at least. And I kind of seeing what you’re saying about the woman’s number. I’m glad the film didn’t end with some grand speech about sexuality, but there could have been more of a story arc relating to owning your sexuality.

      And yes, there are certainly flaws to the film, especially the false urgency at the end. There was absolutely no reason that Anna needed to leave her sister’s wedding to do so–in fact, in real life that would reflect quite poorly on her personality. Plus, that’s kind of a jerk move to pull on the guy she’s been dating for the last month. Just finish the date and give Chris Pine a call later. Chris Pine will understand.

      TiMER sounds fascinating. Why haven’t I heard of it? I hear about most movies. Perhaps it was straight to DVD? I like the concept, although I have a hard time with the idea that there’s any way to know exactly who your soulmate is. How do they calculate that?

      My guess for the main character’s timer is that it involves a love triangle in some way–perhaps it clicks down to 0 and then starts over or something like that. Or there are two timers on her wrist.

      Reply
  5. I think it was just a little indie film, but not straight-to-DVD. It hit a lot of smaller film festivals, and probably had a very limited release. Other than the people who played her mother and stepfather, I didn’t recognize any of the main actors.

    You do have to have a willing suspension of disbelief at the beginning of the film that science has found a way to predict exactly when you will meet your one true love. I suppose the fact that there is only one true love for every person would be another possible willing suspension of disbelief, depending on the viewer. It does allow that you may fall in love with more than one person, but that we each have only one TRUE love.

    One of the characters says he doesn’t want to get a timer, not because he thinks it’s bogus–it’s been proven to work–but he doesn’t want to restrict living his life while he waits. That is something the movie touches on a lot. You’re basically earmarked for someone, and there’s nothing you can do but wait. How do you spend that time? Is it disrespectful to continue to date if say, you have two more years? When should you stop dating? Having an official countdown staring at you makes for a much different reality than how things are today. Right now, you have no idea when you start dating someone how it will go in the long-term. But with a timer, you do. Do you have fun anyway? Do you put off trips and bucket list items to experience them with your mate, or do you do them anyway? How do you live your life? Like what if you really want kids but your timer is a long way from completion? Some of these dilemmas are explored in the movie, and some just kept rolling around in my head.

    I’m not quite sure I liked the ending 100%, but otherwise I really enjoyed the movie. I haven’t really recommended it to anyone, but given that you love an original plot, it sprang into my mind as I reread this entry to respond to “What’s Your Number?” I could see a whole blog entry about the movie, these questions and things like “If you had the chance to get a timer, would you? Would it be impossible to choose NOT to know if you were given the technology to find out? What do you do with that info then?”

    Reply
    • One more thing: I guess it’s important to keep in mind that you usually learn something from most relationships, so it may not make sense to abandon dating altogether while you wait for your timer to go off, but isn’t it weird to start a relationship knowing that ultimately it won’t work out? I would imagine you would be more guarded to protect the inevitable hurt feelings, which would thus make it destined to fail anyway.

      I need to stop thinking about this movie. I could go on for a long time.

      Reply

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