Tag Archives: D



There’s a difference between raunchy and tawdry, and it’s a line that this unsavory rom. com crosses all too often. It wants to be sweet and cheeky but comes off sour and tasteless instead.

Irritatingly chirpy Anna Faris plays Ally Darling, a young Boston professional dumped by her latest live-in boyfriend (Zachary Quinto) and fired from her job in advertising by a finger-sniffing boss (Joel McHale) in the first reel. But she seems much more bothered by the fact that a test in one of those ubiquitous women’s magazines indicates that she’s way beyond the average number of “lays” a typical woman has had before linking up with Mr. Right (she’s at 19 as opposed to the average of 10.5). So in a drunken moment of decision at her sister’s pre-wedding reception, she vows to curb her slutty promiscuity and not to get to twenty sexual encounters before finding her soul mate.

Her solution? Find all her previous nineteen “friends” and “re-audition” the ones who weren’t total rejects. To assist her she recruits her randy cross-the-hallway neighbor Colin (Chris Evans), a musician by trade but womanizer by choice, who as a policeman’s son claims to be expert at finding people. In return she’ll let him use her apartment as a hiding place in the mornings when he wants to disappear while his latest conquest dresses and departs.

It’s obvious that these two will eventually bring out the best in one another and prove to be the perfect match. But along the way to this foreordained conclusion we have to deal with multiple flashbacks to the younger Ally’s various encounters, lots of scenes featuring the wedding preparations of her sister (Ari Graynor) and the prodding of her divorced, pushy mother (Blythe Danner) to find the right kind of man for herself, and a few interludes with her more pleasant father (Ed Begley, Jr.). There are also a few cringe-worthy sequences showing her re-connecting with some of those nineteen “possibles,” including two featuring Chris Pratt and Anthony Mackie and a third, the longest, coupling her with a rich, handsome fellow (Dave Annable) her mother considers the perfect catch but she decides is not the one.

But most of the picture, flabbily directed by Mark Mylod, consists of the Ally-Colin relationship, and it’s peppered with sequences that are carefully manipulated to show one or both of them strip down to only the essentials—the dumbest involving a ridiculous game of “strip horse” the two play at the deserted TD Garden one night. Both Faris and the post-“Captain America” Evans certainly boast attractive physiques, but after a while the movie comes to resemble nothing more than an extended striptease.

The two leads get to show off their other talents too, of course. As far as Faris is concerned, that involves “I Love Lucy”-style slapstick, including one scene in which her hair extension abruptly catches on fire and another when she falls on her face, picks herself up, dusts herself off and speeds away to find Colin. She’s game enough, but the shtick comes off pretty weak. Evans gets to show off his ability to sing and strum guitar, but the result doesn’t suggest that a musical career is in the offing. Graynor is treated merely as a limp foil to Faris, but Danner makes the girls’ mother genuinely nasty—something that adds to the picture’s overall unpleasant tone. As to the other “suitors,” Annable is a stiff bore, and neither Pratt nor Mackie is handed much of anything to do. McHale is stuck in a particularly humiliating part, though Quinto fares little better (and is made to look rather like Adam Goldberg’s younger brother).

Visually the picture is okay, but nothing special. The basketball sequence may be dumb, but the setting is nice, and presumably the Celtics franchise got a substantial sum for allowing filming at the location. A major wag of the finger to music supervisor Julia Michels, whose choices for the incredibly large number of musical montages stuffed into the narrative by Mylod come across as especially lame.

Even in a genre notorious for its low quality, “What’s Your Number?” earns a zero.



The title may be “Transformers,” but “Dark of the Moon,” the third installment of the Michael Bay franchise based on the Hasbro action figures, is just more of the same—except for the subtraction of Megan Fox and the addition of 3D, which hardly seems a fair swap, although to be fair Bay has added a Fox substitute in Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, a tall, svelte, blonde British model who’s unaccountably become the new girlfriend of brash but supposedly lovable series hero Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf).

Witwicky, now an unemployed college grad looking for work, he gets a job (unfortunately sans pay) without even applying for it—once again fighting the evil Decepticons in concert with his old pals, the good Autobots led by Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen). He’s drawn into this latest (and one hopes final) chapter in the endless war between the opposing armies of clunking aliens when the long-unnoticed wreckage of an Autobot ship is discovered on the far side of the moon and investigated by the Apollo 11 mission.

This is the second summer sci-fi behemoth—following the “X-Men: First Class” revisionism on the Cuban Missile Crisis—that rewrite American history to suit its purposes. Here President Kennedy’s call for the manned moon landing is presented merely as a pretext to beat the Russkis to the craft and check it out stealthily. The fifty-year-old find become the basis for contemporary conflict when Optimus Prime learns of the vessel’s presence and rescues his predecessor and mentor Sentinel Prime (Leonard Nimoy) from his long dormancy in it. Unfortunately, that acts as the catalyst for the evil Decepticon leader Megatron (Hugo Weaving) to launch his plan to destroy the Autobots and enslave humanity—in which he has a new henchman, the snakelike Shockwave (Frank Welker).

The contortions of Magatron’s scheme are so silly that there’s little point in trying to unravel them. Suffice it to say that, after a stop in Washington to destroy a national moment (a requirement in all pictures like this since “Independence Day”—in this instance it’s the Lincoln Memorial), it al winds up with the Decepticons in control of a devastated Chicago as ground zero of Megatron’s hostile takeover of the planet, and Sam and his comrades-in-arms, both the Autobots and humans Captain Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and ex-Sergeant Epps (Tyrese Gibson), inside the city attempting to derail the plot. It’s personal for Sam, too, since his girlfriend Carly (Huntington-Whiteley) is trapped in a Windy City skyscraper with her slimy boss Dylan (Patrick Dempsey).

“Dark of the Moon,” like its predecessors the original “Transformers” (2007) and the sequel “Revenge of the Fallen” (2009), is a special-effects extravaganza, especially in the battle of Chicago that makes up the final forty minutes or so (though even those of us who know the city well will have trouble deciphering the topography of the conflict with any precision). But the constant use of CGI gets decidedly tiresome over the long haul (and this one is way too long, once again droning on for more than two-and-a-half hours). That big concluding battle is pretty much a visual mess (as are, oddly, the sequences juxtaposing real footage and staged scenes involving Presidents Kennedy and Obama). And it’s oddly dull as well, even when people are scrambling down the glass sides of skyscrapers that are tumbling to the ground.

That’s partially because the picture isn’t just poorly written, with streams of cliché that one can only hope are intended as send-ups of wretched dialogue, but also badly shot and edited. Amir Mokri’s camerawork relies far too much on rapid-fire movement and brutal close-ups, and the editing shared by Roger Barton, William Goldenberg and Joel Negron accentuates the jaggedness with its dizzying machine-gun style. Those qualities are part of the CGI sequences, too, which as a result are frequently indecipherable. And all the ‘bots remain dull metal-men—even the little ones that are Sam’s pets, and designed to be naughty gremlins, and the purportedly poignant Bumblebee.

With a few exceptions, the humans are no better. John Malkovich has some over-the-top fun as Sam’s supercilious boss, and John Turturro returns to chew up the scenery again as ex-man-in-black Simmon, as also do Kevin Dunn and Julie White as Sam’s sitcomish, intensely irritating parents. But though Huntington-Whiteley looks great running around in her designer dresses and ultra-tight jeans, her acting talent seems inferior even to Fox’s, which may explain some of the hyperkinetic editing in her scenes that seems designed to disguise her inadequacies in that department. Duhamel and Gibson strike the usual poses, and Dempsey is conventionally sleazy, while Frances McDormand is wasted as the purse-lipped director of the National Intelligence Agency, so-called. As for Ken Jeong, who’s stuck with the most deplorable material as an engineer named Wang, the less said the better; he’s an even more offensive stereotype than he was in the “Hangover” movies.

The central problem, though, is LaBeouf. In the first episode he was a likable schlub, but over the course of the series his character has developed into a loud, abrasive whiner, and in “Moon” he’s pretty much insufferable. It’s difficult to embrace an action-adventure movie when its hero is a guy it’s hard to root for.

“Dark of the Moon” is, in the end, a bombastic, elephantine bore whose lack of visceral excitement is topped only by its excess of stupidity. Like the later “Star Wars” episodes, though, it will probably be embraced nonetheless by die-hard fans, as well as by lemming-like sequel-goers who will traipse into theatres even for utter drek like the last two “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. But it should really be consigned to the cinematic scrap heap.