Ari Graynor, Anna Faris and Kate Simses star in WHAT'S YOUR NUMBER, a film directed by Mark Mylod. Photo credit: Claire Folger. Picture courtesy Twentieth Century Fox. All rights reserved.
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What's Your Number? (2011)
Opened: 09/30/2011 Wide
|AMC Empire 25||09/30/2011 - 11/10/2011||42 days|
|AMC Loews Meth...||09/30/2011 - 10/20/2011||21 days|
|Georgetown 14||09/30/2011 - 10/20/2011||21 days|
|Showcase Cinem...||09/30/2011 - 10/13/2011||14 days|
|AMC Deer Valley||09/30/2011 - 10/13/2011||14 days|
|Columbia Park ...||09/30/2011 - 10/13/2011||14 days|
Trailer: Click for trailer
Rated: R for sexual content and language.
Ally Darling embarks on a quest to find the best "ex" of her life, by any means necessary, when she reads a magazine article warning that people who have had 20 or more relationships have missed their chance at true love.
Ally is an original modern heroine. She is smart, attractive, funny and romantic -- a young woman trying to figure out who she really is, as well as whom she should be with. While her quest to find her best "ex," or former boyfriend, is triggered by a magazine article, it also signifies something even more intriguing: Ally is at a point in her life when she doesn't have the husband, job or life she thought she'd have. She is at a crossroads, which leads her to wonder if she has missed something -- or someone -- important during the past decade.
WHAT'S YOUR NUMBER? showcases the formidable comedic talents of Anna Faris, who portrays Ally. "Anna brings to the role great focus, her ability to be heartbreaking and real as well as that oft-quoted new Lucille Ball quality -- that delightful awkwardness combined with a physical beauty and exquisite comic timing," says director Mark Mylod.
Faris' Ally Darling, may be adorable and fun, but she is far from perfect. "She's trying to figure out the missing link in her life and how she can find some direction to it," says Faris, "whether that's through love or her artwork, a job or a special pair of shoes. Ally is a little lost, currently unemployed, and struggling for money."
In addition to starring in WHAT'S YOUR NUMBER?, Faris serves as an executive producer and was instrumental in shaping the project, along with director Mark Mylod, producers Beau Flynn and Tripp Vinson, screenwriters Gabrielle Allan & Jennifer Crittenden (whose screenplay is based on the book "20 Times a Lady" by Karyn Bosnak), and Chris Evans (coming off the blockbuster superhero film "Captain America: The First Avenger"), who stars as Colin, Ally's partner in her quest. Portraying Ally's exes, in hilarious cameos, are Chris Pratt, Mike Vogel, Martin Freeman, Andy Samberg, Thomas Lennon, Zachary Quinto, Anthony Mackie, Dave Annable, and Aziz Ansari. Also starring are Ari Graynor as Ally's younger (and about to be wed) sister, and Blythe Danner, as Ally's irrepressible mother.
On the morning we meet Faris' Ally, another bad romance has just imploded and she's fired from her job in marketing. On her way home from her truncated day at work, Ally reads a magazine article that changes her life:
"WHAT'S YOUR NUMBER?"
THE AVERAGE NUMBER OF LOVERS
WOMEN HAVE IN THEIR LIFETIME IS 10.5
In America, ninety-six percent of women
who've been with twenty or more lovers can't find a husband.*
*from the study conducted by Dr. Helen Fig
Ally becomes convinced she's reached the limit of sexual partners a woman can have before she's deemed unmarriageable (except maybe, as Dr. Fig notes, she lives in New Zealand). With celibacy as a non-starter, Ally embarks on a mission to find a mate, without adding to her number, by seeking the colorful and strange assortment of lovers from her past; she wonders, are they married, available, gay ...dead?
"Ally begins to realize she's a little lost in life," says Faris. "She's now unemployed, and has a bit of an identity crisis when she realizes that since she's slept with twenty people she may not ever be able to find a husband. It doesn't help that her little sister, who's kind of perfect, is getting married."
As an actor and filmmaker, Faris appreciated the story being told from Ally's point of view, in a no-holds-barred way that mixes sex, heart, fun and emotion. "I loved the idea of women getting to play in what right now seems like a man's world," Faris elaborates. "Women can relate to envelope-pushing comedies, just like men can. So I wanted to play in that world as well, where a modern woman can be raunchy and real and gritty with her friends." (The development of WHAT'S YOUR NUMBER? preceded the recent box office hit "Bridesmaids.")
Gabrielle Allan, who wrote the script with Jennifer Crittenden, describes WHAT'S YOUR NUMBER? as "the story of a woman who's been living by everybody else's rules for a long time. She finally meets somebody who challenges her to be honest about who she is. Ally comes to accept that she's not like everybody else, and that she has been trying to live up to impossible expectations. It's the story of a woman coming into her own."
Several of these story elements and themes are found in the book upon which the screenplay is based, "20 Times a Lady," by Karyn Bosnak. "I had read somewhere that the average American woman had 10.5 sexual partners, but many of the people I had spoken with had higher numbers," recalls the author. "So I decided to give Ally twice the national average -- giving her even more reason to freak out." Ally's dismay at realizing she may have approached some kind of un-magical milestone points to another inviolable truth in the battle of the sexes over: women subtract; men add. Meaning that guys will boast of more sexual conquests than they really had, and women will admit to fewer than the actual number. "Women and men both lie about that number -- to anyone and everyone," says Bosnak.
"I've done what Ally does in the film," admits Gabrielle Allan. "I've gone backwards to not raise my number. I really related to Ally even though her quest is crazy and neurotic. It's important to Ally, and I remember it being important to me. I think that a woman keeping track of her number and the reason why she's keeping track, was a fun idea."
Whatever the veracity of a person's "number," Bosnak says the story's most important message is being true to oneself. "If you're examining your past, you should never regret the reasons you did certain things, because you can't change them, and all those choices made you who you are."
Screenwriter Jennifer Crittenden remembers that "the book made us laugh; it was really funny. It seemed like a perfect premise for a romantic comedy -- to go back and rediscover who you've been with. The big challenge was to keep the film from feeling episodic, as Ally runs from guy to guy to guy to guy, so we gave Ally a home base from which she embarks on her adventures. This allows her to spend more time with Colin," and to have that dynamic unfold.
The filmmakers embraced the story's edgier elements. "There's no way around the fact that our protagonist has slept with 19 people; that's pretty edgy for a romantic comedy in and of itself," says producer Tripp Vinson. "Rather than run away from that, it seemed like a smarter choice to just to embrace it and go for it."
Director Mark Mylod, best known for producing and directing several seasons of "Entourage" on HBO, describes how he "was looking to do a romantic comedy but I wanted to do one that had edge, something that was relevant and felt fresh. I was struck by the screenplay's cleverness and humor -- it was laugh-out-loud funny -- and I liked that Ally was strong. The theme of Ally finding herself and having the strength to be herself resonated with me."
"I see Ally as somebody who is trying to find some true connection with a guy but is going about it completely the wrong way by trying to change for them instead of letting them come to her," Mylod continues. "So tonally, I wanted WHAT'S YOUR NUMBER? to be an interesting cocktail of a frank and lively sexual content but with a genuine romantic heart. We're playing to the genre, but we're also pulling the rug out on it by giving it a new twist and keeping it fresh and vital."
A key element in keeping things fresh and vital is the dynamic between Ally and her new neighbor Colin, played by Chris Evans. Seeking a haven from the woman he's brought home the night before, Colin comes to Ally's rescue when she tries to disentangle herself from her booze-riddled mistake of the night before. Ally and Colin click, and even though Ally's romantic sights are aimed entirely in retrospect, she has found in Colin a new friend and ally. "Ally and Colin enhance each other but don't necessarily live for each other," says Evans. "They've helped each other become better versions of themselves, but they don't need each other to exist."
Faris and Evans nicely balance one another, with Evans displaying a sense of grounded, physical stability while Faris provides a series of fluid, deft and comical transitions that always surprise. "When Ally and Colin meet, there's a lot of tension between them," notes Faris. "Ally's kind of disgusted with Colin because she sees women coming in and out of his apartment. She thinks he's just this man-whore. Ally wants much more for her own life, so she's really annoyed when sees somebody who's lackadaisical in their own lifestyle -- probably because she's envious. Eventually they come to understand one another."
"Colin comes from a family of cops and detectives, so he's good at digging up dirt," adds Evans. "That's why Ally enlists his help. And he's a bit of a womanizer, and is very 'alpha.' He's a likable guy but he's not exactly husband material. But slowly Colin realizes that Ally's the person he's supposed to be with, and that opens a lot more doors for him."
Executive producer Nan Morales confirms that Ally and Colin's first meeting is far from auspicious. "When she meets him, the audience will think, 'No, Ally no!' It's like what her friends say: 'You don't want to go out with that guy; he's dangerous, he's sexy, he can trick you.' But this is how Colin lives; he's honest about it. This is a lesson Ally needs to learn; she needs to own who she is in order to go to the next level in her life."
"Ally and Colin are different in many, many ways," says Mylod, "but humor brings them together, which happens in a lot of relationships, and I think they have the same intrinsic values."
Joining Faris and Evans in the starring cast is Ari Graynor, who has appeared on Broadway and scored key comic roles in such films as Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and the upcoming 20th Century Fox comedy The Sitter. In WHAT'S YOUR NUMBER?, Graynor plays Daisy Darling, Ally's almost-perfect younger sister. Says Graynor: "Daisy has always stayed on the right path, done the right thing. She has never made any major missteps in her life. Ally is just a little bit more eccentric and sort of marches to the beat of her own drum, but despite their differences, Daisy and Ally really get each other and have this sort of kindred spirit."
Playing the sisters' mother Ava is Blythe Danner. An award-winning actor whose work encompasses memorable roles on stage, screen and television, Danner found much to embrace in playing Ava. "Ava is a tough cookie, very judgmental, and very tough on Ally," Danner notes. "She's not an easy mom. But we find out Ava has a bigger heart than we'd initially thought. She may be heightened a couple of notches, but I think that every parent will understand her."