For a Good Time, Call ... is a romantic comedy masquerading as a sex farce — a bad, bad girl sex farce, full of naughty talk and boys calling girls to hear that filthy language over the phone.
And if that’s not titillating enough, it’s a love story between two consenting, nubile females.
Hot and bothered yet?
The fact that the women we’re talking about — the loose and loud Katie (Ari Graynor) and the organized and uptight Lauren (Lauren Miller) are falling into a loving friendship, that this is basically a female-empowerment/ female bonding tale set in the phone-sex trade, is the wickedest twist of all in this sex-talk and sex-toys comedy.
Snappy, sassy, full of zingers and zippy cameos, this film is a pleasant shock, offering Graynor (The Sitter, What’s Your Number?) a welcome promotion from best friend-evil girlfriend-newlywed sister of the leading lady scene-stealing roles. And it pitches Miller (50/50), who co-wrote it, as not the only member of her family (she’s married to Seth Rogen) who can type out blue language for laughs.
We meet Lauren as she’s given the post-coital “We need time apart” talk by her boring long-term beau. She tops that bit of bad news by losing her job. How can she live on her own in Manhattan with no job or roommate?
If we learned nothing from Sex and the City, we know that no single woman can manage New York without a gay best friend. That would be Justin Long, who brings a lippy, manic energy to a role that’s been a cliche since the Reagan administration. Jesse puts Lauren together with Katie. But then, he’s been trying to do that since college.
That’s where they all met. That’s where Katie did something for which Lauren never forgave her. But she’s desperate, so she moves in with the curvy/ nervy Katie, who sexercises on her stripper pole and describes herself as “creative” even though she’s piecing together a living handing out fliers, doing “nail art” in a Korean manicure salon (a hilarious single-scene bit) and what-have-you to get by.
It’s the “what-have-you” that the movie is about. Lauren picks up on the pillow talk Katie does at all hours of the day and discovers she’s sharing a Gramercy Park pad with a phone sex operator.
And since her dream publishing job (offered by Nia Vardalos) is months away, the organized, businesslike Lauren pitches in to make this “1-900-mmm-hmmm” thing work. Just a little Paypal and a princess phone, and they’re cooking.
It may be “so weird and Single White Female,” as Jesse puts it, this world where female roommates talk men into fits of ecstasy. But in between the moaning customer cameos — Rogen, Kevin Smith — Lauren helps Katie grow up and Katie helps Lauren loosen up, which gives the whole sordid enterprise a wholesome touch.
Someday, impressionable young men are going to recall, fondly, the first impression the curvaceous and playful Graynor made on them in For a Good Time, Call ... Because Graynor, who followed her big screen big break in Conviction with a string of comic roles, makes the most of it, landing her one-liners, faking her way through lucrative copulation calls that will curl your hair.
The energy flags in the film’s second half, and director Jamie Travis lets Miller’s husband’s cameo go on forever. But For a Good Time, Call ... is a cheap thrill that’s worth whatever charge your Paypal account says it is, and then some.
For a Good Time, Call...
Critic's rating: ***
Directed by Jamie Travis, Written by Lauren Miller and Katie Anne Naylon. A Focus release, playing at Rave Franklin Park and Levi's Commons. Rated R for strong sexual content, language, and some drug use. Running time: 86 minutes.
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