What’s Your Number?’s numbers are in, and they aren’t good. The movie had “the fifth-worst debut ever for a movie in more than 3,000 theaters,” making only $5.6 million at the box office.
So okay, not the brightest star on Anna Faris’ IMDB page. OR IS IT? Because there aren’t too many bright stars there. No, it is a cloudy, cloudy night on Anna Faris’ IMDB page, so cloudy that you can’t even see Orion. I’m going to stop with the star analogy now. She’s been featured in a dizzying number of not-great movies, from the My Super Ex-Girlfriend, the Scary Movie series, Alvin & the Chipmunks (original and squeakquel), The House Bunny, Just Friends….And yes, Lost in Translation, that was a good one. But the point stands.
Faris herself is very funny. Look at this clip from Smiley Face, or this one from Lost in Translation, or this interview where she does a really good impression of her cat. In that same 2008 interview, she says, “I feel like in the last ten years, there’s been a trend of women playing the straight man to a really funny guy, and I’d love to sort of buck that trend a little bit.” That’s awesome! But while other female actors have been able to break out of the straight man role in recent years, Faris only seems able to do so in…terrible movies.
A big component of her humor is its reliance on the ditziness and sexualization of her characters. They’re super-blonde and often totally zany. We generally laugh at them more than we laugh with them. This works great for supporting characters: it’s easy to imagine Faris shining as part of the ensemble cast of Bridesmaids, for example. But for a lead character? Female leads like Tina Fey and Kristen Wiig usually play a more subtle and relatable humor. A protagonist whom you just want to laugh at for her ditziness is…the kind of protagonist you get in movies like The House Bunny, Scary Movie, and What’s Your Number?.
Is Faris’ humor too broad for a starring role in a truly great comedy? Or have we just not yet seen the movie that proves this theory wrong?