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September 29, 2011


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Mark Asch

Not to be a total noodge, but Aziz Ansari does in fact appear in the film as [SPOILER? IS THIS HOW IT'S DONE?] the voicemail caller at the end of the film.

His recruitment is documented in some detail in Tad Friend's New Yorker profile of Faris from this spring; I gather Tad Friend is a writer unbeloved by many I respect but it's a pretty great piece that goes into some detail about the amount of prudish bet-hedging that went into rendering this premise as appallingly safe as it ended up being.

Incidentally, to refer back to a joke I just made on Twitter, sorry everyone, in the New Yorker profile the part of the studio executive made twitchy-nervous by the prospect of releasing a comedy about an unabashedly sexual woman is played by 20th Century Fox's Tom Rothman: "I voted for a lower number, like one"--which is funny, but not like funny ha-ha, unless you happen to remember his wife Jessica Harper's not entirely dissimilar performance in PENNIES FROM HEAVEN.

Glenn Kenny

Friend's okay a lot of the time; knows how to write, at least. That whole Segway thing he and his less palatable wife did for Slate a long time back though; what the fuck was up with that.

Years ago Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos came to the Premiere offices for a confab or something and we're all sitting around the conference table and Mr. Rothman starts talking about how his wife used to be an actress and that she was once in this "totally obscure and weird Italian horror movie that nobody's ever seen" and I said, "Oh, yeah, 'Suspiria,' that's a great picture" and that actually kinda threw him off. Strange. Also strange when you recall that "Suspiria" was in fact distributed in America by Fox.

I didn't recognize Ansari's voice but I'm not gonna split hairs, or not split hairs, given that he's not actually SEEN in the movie. And anyway, the present-day Andy Samberg bit in the television trailer isn't in the final cut, so THEY'RE wrong, too.

Dan Coyle

I saw the House Bunny in the theater.

That has nothing to do with anything, but I figure if I say it enough times it'll somehow make it less true.


This movie's premise makes me feel slutty. In a good way. ;-)

Jeff McMahon

Rothman's remark about 'that totally obscure and weird Italian horror movie' makes me depressed about what kind of people are working in, you know, the film industry.


I need to make a point about this: I will see it, despite Faris's ever-encroaching Plast-O-Face and the presence of Poor Man's Shawn Hatosy Chris Pratt, who was discovered by Rae Dawn Chong (seriously, read his IMDB bio and try not to hang yourself...)

But the premise of this, like High Fidelity, like One Day, like so many romcoms, is KIND of bullshit. I get that, say, John Cusack or Anna Faris in "real life" would probably have a more active sex life than I (a claim that John Pinette could likely make, too), but I HATE HATE HATE these movies where the protagonist can tick off the ERAS in their life by their sexual partners. Oh, look, it's the year when John Douchesack dated Lisa Bonet. Oh then he dated that Icelandic chick. Oh, then he dates Catherine Zeta Jones.


Same deal here, rubber-faced Faris with her gyno ex, her puppeteer ex, her Black Guy Ex... This is some serious Hollywood construct BULLSHIT that sells this absurd concept that the Average Person has two or three romantic partnership a year... or decade.

We all know I'm undersexed (two partners ever, sex less than six times in 40 years), but seriously, I don't know FUCKING ANYBODY who dates more than two or three women/men in their ENTIRE LIFETIME. Most people have a high school crush, maybe a college girlfriend (if they're lucky), then a long dry spell through their twenties, then by the time they're all broken and bored and fat in their early 30s they just rush into a marriage, which no doubt fails... then they might-- MIGHT-- have like one bar pick-up along the way, never having more than five, six sexual partners in their entire lifetimes.

NOBODY has this bullshit where they have like 200 sex partners, and even if they do, they're probably all doughy white people, not this Movie Bullshit where it's like OH YEAH it's the year of My Eskimo Boyfriend, as opposed to The Year of My Semi-Gay British Boyfriend.

I can GUARANTEE YOU, for example, Jeff McMahon, just to pull a name of his hat, doesn't have a RAINBOW COALITION of exes to mark off all the DISTINCT ERAS of his life. Nor does Glenn.

Any man who says he's had more than four or five sex partners ever is either rich, super good looking... or super full of shit.


Gawsh darn it Lex, you missed the chance to reply to a thread entitled "Don't look" with the words "LOOOOOOOOOOK AT HER!" ;-)


Yeah, I almost went there, almost wondered if Kenny was daring me to do it, since it seemed inevitable, but I'm not sure Faris is a full LOOK AT HER anymore, even though she used to be.

But if you look at that pic the right way it totally looks like her BJ face.

Glenn Kenny

Wow. I knew that AIDS and other factors contributed to a, um, generational shift, but I didn't know things had gotten THAT bad. Seriously. But thanks, Lex; for the first time in a while, I feel actively happy to have been born in 1959. And I was a late bloomer, as it were.

Michael Adams

What's wrong with having sex with doughy white people?

Yishai Milhender

Interesting comments...
as a male I've had many romantic partners, and many that I've been in loving relationships with. That said..women can/do have even more sexual partners than men. why? they can.
Is this movie stupid and boring...I don't know. Probably.
But the can of sex worms it opens is real, many women feel bad for having had so many partners, and so many men feel bad for not having had enough.
Obviously I love the fantasy that every woman I've been with has,(at least for disease purposes), had very few partners, but alas, that is usually not the case.
Girls are ho's - deal with it. And guys will be ho's if they are as a previous poster commented "rich, good looking, or full of shit"...well I'm good looking and have a personality, that's really all it takes. And I"m looking to up my number.

Andrew Bemis

I worked as an extra on this, in the final scenes. I had to sign an agreement not to talk/write about it and spoil the ending. I thought their concern was sweet. Also, my mind was blown when I realized the DP, J. Michael Muro, was also the director of Street Trash. I was sorry I didn't get an opportunity to thank him for that one.


Yishai, meet Elizabeth. :)

Lex, Rae Dawn Chong rocks! As for Pratt, I don't watch PARKS & REC, but I understand he is gold in that. I liked his appearance on CONAN earlier this year. Seems like a funny guy.

I like Faris a lot, but this looks like a lateral move for her. Maybe the success of BRIDESMAIDS will inspire someone to let her run with a vehicle like that instead of hedging their bets. OBSERVE AND REPORT showed she's willing to push the boundaries.

Eddie Carmel

Maybe it's because I've had somewhat the same experiences (I'm younger than Lex but I have a similar track record) but Lex's comment struck a chord in me. I'm a pretty physically unattractive fellow on the fringe of the theatre business in the Midwest (the "Eddie Carmel" name was just something I picked up from a satiric NEW YORKER piece about playbills before I realized that he indeed was a real and tragic person) and maybe it's my upbringing or maybe just an unfortunate defect in my personality, but sex is just something that is not in the cards for me overall (and I say this as a married-probably soon to be divorced-man in my late 20s who's been in therapy for clinical depression for a while.) Obviously sex sells in films, which is not exactly a stop-the-presses point, but I think there's something to what Lex is alluding to, re: the vast disconnect between what studio executives THINK American sex lives are like and what they actually are, though the stupidity of the WYN premise seems to further muddy the point (Yes, yes, I know you're going all Larry-Summers-in-SOCIAL NETWORK and saying "Please, ARRIVE at the POINT." In a second, Mr. President!)

But actually, Glenn, your review reminded me of the films of your bete noire, your personal Kenny Bania, Mr. Joe Swanberg. The very premise of WYN sounds like something the Great Swan might execute in a er, different style, given his taste for graphic sexuality and supposed hyperconnection to these kids today: I'm mostly familiar with Swanberg due to his YOUNG AMERICAN BODIES web series, which I've watched because of (see list of my personal defects above) not cinematic quality, and I have to say, combining what passes for big-studio sex comedy and Swanberg's style, as it were, might open some doors to America's sexual mental block, not that I'd want to be anywhere near when that happened.

Jeff McMahon

And Lex's use of 'everyone on the internet' as his substitute therapist continues.

My favorite phrase of the week: "can of sex worms".

I don't think it's necessary to view the multitudinous sex lives of people in Hollywood movies as anything more than amusing fantasies, along the same lines as the idea that 'anyone can shoot a gun while sliding across the hood of a car' or 'unconventional rebels always know better than by-the-book followers'. They're all genre conventions, but the sex thing raises a greater sting of inadequacy in some people than the others.


re your characterization of Tom Rothman, it's more likely he was actually being a little self-deprecating by describing Argento and SUSPIRIA in that manner-- preemptively letting you off the hook in the event that you didn't know the director or the film, rather than name-dropping or bragging. Before becoming a studio executive, Rothman was a New York entertainment lawyer, a protege of the great Arthur Klein, and the person who handled Jim Jarmusch's dealings at the beginning of his career, and notwithstanding the commercial imperatives of his job and their consequences with regard to Fox releases, he's certainly a guy who can talk to you about movies.

Glenn Kenny

@Escher: All due respect, but that was not the impression I came away with at the time. But my point isn't that Rothman's not erudite, or doesn't love movies, but merely that his perspectives/sensibilities are circumscribed in a particular way.

Not David Bordwell

Jesus Christ, Lex is totally right about this. We're the same age, I just did the math, and, uh... the figures are the same.

One of the best lines of the ancient F/X Jay Mohr vehicle "Action" (which I always thought must have been killed by the notoriously sensitive Bobby G—I mean, Barry Diller):

Joe Isuzu guy: "I've been taking lessons with Rae Dawn Chong. She's really helping me to open up my vehicle, if you know what I mean."

JeffMCM, is that really you?


While I fall into the Lex class, for vaguely Aspergian reasons (as I suspect is the case of Lex) that really isn't at all my impression of how people in their 20s and 30s (I'm 26) live their lives these days. Farris's "number" seems quite typical. Hollywood only seems off in its portrayals of American sex lives in that the people in those sex lives are always really good-looking. That said, they're more realistic in that respect than Classic Hollywood, inasmuch as there are no Robert Mitchums or Hedy Lamarrs in film nowadays.

Victor Morton

This question (how many sex partners does a typical person have, and what would be considered an extraordinarily high, i.e., sluttish, number) has been the result of numerous scientific surveys. There is an answer to it (and yes, it is that 19 is extraordinarily high).


Median number of female sexual partners in lifetime, for men 25-44 years of age, 2006-2008: 6.1
Percent of men 25-44 years of age who have had 15 or more female sexual partners, 2006-2008: 27.2%
Source: NHSR No. 36, Table 4  [PDF - 836 KB]

Median number of male sexual partners in lifetime, for women 25-44 years of age, 2006-2008: 3.6
Percent of women 25-44 years of age who have had 15 or more male sexual partners, 2006-2008: 10.4%
Source: NHSR No. 36, Table 3  [PDF - 836 KB]

NOTE: Includes partners with whom respondent had any type of sexual contact (vaginal, oral, or anal sex)

Glenn Kenny

Oh my God, you POOR KIDS!

Jeff McMahon

Not David Bordwell: Yes?


To be picayune, your numbers say that 10.4% of women have had 15 or higher, so 19 isn't extraordinarily high, any more than a 6'3 man (6'3 is the 95th percentile for height) is extraordinarily tall. And of course, I don't know how accurate these self-reported numbers are, though I suspect people lie in both directions.

Stephen Bowie

Wow, it's like the internet suddenly turned into a confessional trainwreck or something.


Personally, I'm quite the handsome stud, and my 'number' puts Wilt Chamberlain's to shame. As far as any of you know.

The Siren

Don't you think we could more profitably move the "misogynist" discussion up here? This movie's idea that there's a number, ANY number of sexual partners that makes a woman out of bounds, in her mind or anybody else's ... at a minimum it goes into my ever-increasing file of "Topics I Can't Believe Are Still Part of the Cultural Conversation."

And Jbryant is right. As I once said on a podcast, this is the Internet. We're all sex symbols here.


Siren: Yeah. Sheesh.

To continue the theme of personal confession that runs through these comments, I've recently had a rather toxic relationship that has just ended; I promised a friend that if I talked to my ex again, I'd go see "What's Your Number" and sit through the whole thing. So far it's been a sufficient disincentive.

Stephen Whitty

I just love the still that Glenn chose. Looks like something from a Bert I. Gordon movie; "Attack of the Amazing Tiny Person."

That Fuzzy Bastard

Siren: But isn't the whole point of the movie that the lead's belief that there's a number is totally wrong, and she'll only find twue lurve once she gets over that belief? I mean, not that it makes the movie good, but it's hardly endorsing the whole number thing.


That's right, Siren. I'm a Self-Styled Stud. :)

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