HOLLYWOOD nods to the rising power of female comedy this week by making ample room at the box office for Anna Faris' "What's Your Number?"
It's a crude, sexually candid laugher with some of the basic building blocks of "Bridesmaids," including lots of raunchy bridesmaids.
And it's getting 3,000 screens this weekend - the most among new releases, and a thousand more than Seth Rogen is getting for "50/50" (perhaps because the latter is about the less-marketable subject of cancer).
"Number," though, is in almost every way less quirky and inventive than "Bridesmaids," a lively ensemble piece that relied on the wacky, probably spontaneous contributions of improv comediennes.
"Number" is a more-scripted affair, and more focused on a predictable rom-com story line. Faris is Ally, a single gal watching her younger sister getting married, also alarmed by a guilt-inducing women's mag story (is there another kind?) arguing that single gals with 20 or more sexual partners will never get married.
Ally - at 19 partners and holding - decides to track down all her ex-boyfriends, hoping to rekindle a romance that will yield a potential husband without adding to her tipping-point total.
She lacks the investigative skills to do this on her own, and so hires the womanizing hunk next door (Chris Evans) to do the detective work.
You can see exactly where this is going, and it dutifully goes there, following familiar rom-com beats and boilerplate (how much would you pay to see a movie in which someone does not give a drunken, embarrassing toast?).
Predictable can be OK, provided the details are strong, but that's not the case here. Ally's conflict with her shallow, marriage-obsessed mom (Blythe Danner) is tired, and Faris' chemistry with Captain America is just OK.
And the movie feels superficial on its chosen subject. It jokes about Ally's sexual/boyfriend history without really developing a point of view. "Bridesmaids" found laughs by showing the psychic drain on Kristen Wiig of her crappy, dismissive boyfriends (the hilarious Jon Hamm cameo).
Ally is apparently made of harder stuff. She's withstood 19 breakups with no blow to her self-esteem, so her sudden track-record panic is hard to explain.
A friend warns her that too many partners will cause damage to her "pelvic floor."