Saturday, April 07, 2012

A Surprisingly Good Rom-Com

I saw a movie in Redbox that sounded intriguing, but have never heard of. It's What's Your Number? I don't remember hearing about it in theaters at all. How did this slip past me? I wanted to watch something light to contrast with the psychological thriller Take Shelter which a co-worker recommended that I see so she could get my thoughts on it. I won't review that film, because I thought it was much ado about nothing. While it had great performances by Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain (she was an amazingly understanding wife) and was mildly intriguing, I did not believe that it amounted to much. I guess the point of the film was to provoke audience thoughts about whether the guy was having a schizophernic break with reality or did he have a prophetic vision of doom? In the end, no film brilliantly addresses the nature of mental illness as well as A Beautiful Mind does.

So, What's Your Number? was a perfect contrast to an "icky" film like Take Shelter. I had my doubts in the beginning, though, when Anna Faris interacted with her girlfriends. I thought it was going to be a "chick flick" instead of a romantic comedy (unlike most guys, I actually separate the categories between "chick flick" and "dating movie". I don't like "chick flicks" for the most part, particularly the Sex and the City variety, but a dating movie generally involves a relationship while chick flicks are all about female friendships). What's Your Number? is about a woman who reads an article in a chick magazine that women who've had sex with more than 20 men have a difficult time finding a husband. It's one of those double-standards that society holds for women but not men. Because she's right on the dot with having slept with 20 men in her long dating life, she decides to reconnect with each of the men to see if one of them might be someone she might marry. It's an intriguing premise.

Her across the hall neighbour is played by Chris Evans, who has no problems bedding chicks. His problem, though, is that he doesn't often like the after-sex snuggle or the stay-in-bed mornings, so he sneaks out until his date decides to leave his apartment. He helps Anna find her old companions and a friendship develops. You can see where the story is heading, so it's no spoiler if I reveal that they eventually fall in love with each other. Much of the humour in the film is meeting her previous boyfriends and seeing why they weren't perfect material for her. There were plenty of laugh out loud moments and I can definitely see Anna Faris as the new queen of the Romantic Comedy (taking the roles once held by Meg Ryan, Sandra Bullock, and Kate Hudson). She is sweet and laugh out loud funny.

The reason why I ended up loving this film in spite of my overall dislike of the romantic comedy genre is because of the overall message. I'm a sucker for the "friends becoming romantic partners" (Chelsea Clinton is the most famous example of a lady who ended up marrying her best male friend from high school). A relationship should always have a good grounding in friendship. In this film, she found in Chris Evans' character a man who had countless meaningless sex with women he couldn't connect with on a real basis, but did not judge her for having slept with 20 guys before him. Since they had a no sex rule between them, this allowed for a genuine friendship to develop first before any sex would happen. I've read enough books on dating and relationships, and the common advice is to get to know the other person first at a deeper level before bringing sex into the relationship. Some say the third date rule or later. The point is to not have a sexual experience on the same day that you meet because for men, that might be the last time the woman sees him. Once conquered, it's on to the next. It's in our genetics!

While the movie was sweet and provided a good message of friends first, which blooms into a relationship, it's also worth noting that it has Hollywood's superficial values in it. Most guys who are friends with women don't happen to look like Chris Evans, so what is the realistic chances that their friendships will grow into a full blown romantic relationships? For many men, being stuck in the "just friends" category is the seventh level of hell. At least in purgatory, you get promoted eventually. If we're going to be honest here, I doubt very seriously that there are women who would want a strictly platonic friendship with Chris Evans. That guy would have zero problems finding a one night stand on any given night.

Still, this is a likable romantic comedy that has plenty of laugh out loud humorous situations and likable characters with an overall important message (note to women: the guy who encourages you to pursue your passions is the guy you should take note of). Since I don't remember hearing about this film in theaters, I'm guessing that it was not a hit. Now that it's on DVD, it's worth watching. Hopefully, it will find an audience and inspire a new way at looking at potential mates. With all the divorce that happens, people don't seem to be making the right choices for long term relationships. I know a few people in my age group who divorced their spouse because they had nothing in common at a deeper level. When you're young and horny, physical and sexual attraction seems to matter more than intellectual and emotional attraction. After you've had all the sex you can stand, communication and a deeper emotional / intellectual connection begins to matter more. For me, a woman who engages my brain is sexy and matters more than what she may happen to look like. I hope I will meet a lady who is looking for the same in a mate. I'm getting tired of navigating the superficial world of dating.

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