One for the Money, Two for the Show
“What’s Your Number?” is one of those very-21st century romantic comedies where they even make reference to Audrey Hepburn (“very classy”) and Katherine Hepburn (“too much like a man”), but that’s where the homage ends. This is the post-Sex-And-The-City generation. The girls discuss their sexual activity as easily as, well, their grocery list. The main character, Ally (Anna Faris) even admits that she’s never aspired to being a lady. But we figure that out after the first scene.
It seems that Ally is waking up in bed, once more, with a man who really cares nothing about her. She mistakenly thinks that the relationship will “progress” after the physical intimacy, but after about, oh, nineteen tries, she’s beginning to realize that she’s can’t assume that. (Some people are quicker learners than others.) On her way back from being callously “let go” at work, she comes upon a magazine article that tells her that if the number of past experiences accumulates past 20, then the likelihood of a permanent attachment significantly decreases. This information causes Ally to figure that she can’t afford even one more casual liaison, so she’s going to have to try to find her previous partners and see if maybe things have improved. She’s encouraged by the fact that her sister is getting married to a former high school boyfriend who has since, in their view, matured significantly. So, aided by her profligate neighbor, Colin (Chris Evans), she searches for her old boyfriends to see if any spark still remains.
There’s certainly no shame here in talking about sex, nor does there seem to be any embarrassment in casual coupling, as if that sort of thing is just assumed. Well, perhaps among some social circles, it is assumed. But isn’t it a bit illogical to also assume that “the love of her life” is going to be one of those ghosts from her past?
Of course we all see this coming from a mile away, but Ally does find someone who cares, yes, the Romeo across the hall who, in the past, has developed serial sexuality into an art form. We’re supposed to root for them, but do we really believe there’s going to be a “happily ever after” here? Well, at the very least, Ally learns that what she’s really looking for is someone who lets her be exactly who she is, which isn’t exactly a new revelation, but it is, at least, sound psychology. This movie will make money, but accomplish little else.
Speaking of ghosts from the past, “The Double” is one of those slick, fast-paced dramatic offerings with an unusual premise: the Russians are back. Yes, they’re spying on us once again, and their double agents are everywhere, and they’ve definitely returned to the clandestine operations theater. Richard Gere plays a former CIA operative who thinks he’s retired, but his old boss, played by Martin Sheen, who looks too old to be playing the spy game, asks him to work with a young FBI agent played by Topher Grace.
The problem with a film going the viewer deception route is that even saying that much about it tips off the viewer that everything is not as it appears. Some viewers are irritated with this storytelling method, assuming laziness or just shoddy work. Other viewers simply don’t enjoy being confused much of the time, because they’re keeping you in the dark so you can identify with the characters who are also trying to figure out what’s happening. Well, Gere still has screen presence, but unfortunately this is a frustrating vehicle, even for his veteran magnetism. Gere and Grace seemed paired only so we can showcase their good looks and savvy sophistication.
One for the Money, Two for the show, indeed.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Interim Pastor, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas