Despite an intriguing hook and certain scenes that suggest a zany potential, the raunchy female-centric comedy ‘For a Good Time, Call…’ can’t manage to be near the level of something like ‘Bridesmaids’. To be fair, it’s far better than something like ‘The Sweetest Thing’ and I laughed quite a bit here, but the film is essentially without a plot and it’s a bit frustrating to keep waiting for the movie to go somewhere it doesn’t. The end result is something enjoyable but a bit too sitcom-like for my tastes. The film certainly isn’t a bad time at the movies, but it doesn’t especially stand out as a top notch comedy in 2012. Co-writer/star Lauren Miller has appeal and potential on both ends, while Ari Graynor is finally given a big role to tackle, but their charm isn’t enough to get by here. Director Jamie Travis doesn’t do much to give the screenplay (which feels more like an outline than a shooting script) anything extra, leading to too many scenes that are fine, but could have been better. When the film is funny, it’s real funny, but for a 90-something minute flick, it moves slowly. I can’t fully recommend this movie, but I’m hardly demonizing it either. I just was hoping for a little bit more than I got…
When Lauren (Miller) is unceremoniously dumped by her type A boyfriend Charlie (James Wolk), she finds herself alone and pretty much homeless when she’s also let go from her job. Her friend Jesse (Justin Long) doesn’t want her on his couch forever, and knows that his other close friend Katie (Graynor) just lost rent stabilization on the huge apartment overlooking Gramercy Park in Manhattan that she shared with her late grandmother, so she needs a roommate. He throws them together, regardless of the fact that they hated each other when they met in college. They both need each other though, so they tough it out. Lauren can’t find work, and wonders how Katie earns enough to survive. She finds out by accident one night though…Katie is a phone sex operator. Initially disgusted, Lauren eventually decides to come on and help turn it into a real business for Katie. Soon enough, she’s willing to even get on the phones, leading her to loosen up and the two to become best friends. Will it last though? There’s really not much plot to the film than that, which is my main issue with it, to be frank. It could do so much with the premise, but it seems unwilling to go there, leading to my frustration.
The acting isn’t the issue here, as the girls have great chemistry together. Lauren Miller is the character the film really focuses on, in terms of her transition from uptight rich girl to edgy entrepenuer, and she sells it well. She’s a very reactive actress, and her facial expressions are a highlight at times. As for Ari Graynor, she’s often been stuck in supporting roles, so getting to be a co-lead is a big step up for her, and this could easily lead to higher profile projects. She’s the dirty talking highlight of the flick, with a spark that the film is sometimes lacking otherwise. Their interactions together once they’re friends and business partners are cute and show a strong chemistry. In terms of the supporting players, Justin Long is saddled with playing the cliched gay friend character, but he does manage to have fun with it and keep the character from being a drag when he’s on the screen. Mark Webber has a small part as a client that Katie may be interested in as more than just a client, Mimi Rogers and Don McManus are Lauren’s parents, while Nia Vardalos shows up as well. James Wolk plays the douche ex-boyfriend, but he barely factors into things. There’s also cameos by Seth Rogen, Kevin Smith, and Ken Marino as clients on the phone, all of whom amuse (Smith’s has the best punchline, though it doesn’t start out as much).
Director Jamie Travis is an award winning maker of short films, and here he transitions to features in a way that’s not fully satisfying, but suggests a future. Travis is content to just film the script as is, which wouldn’t have been an issue if there was more going on. He also paces the film oddly, mostly just slowing things down too much from the middle of the second act on. Not huge complaints, but they add up. As for the screenplay that Lauren Miller co-wrote with Katie Anne Naylon, it sometimes is clever, but at other times it’s just too pleased with itself for having pretty girls talk filthy. I enjoyed the tone of the flick, mixing the dirty with the sweet, but I wish the mixture tasted a bit better, if that makes sense. It’s hardly bad, but the potential was there for a laugh riot, and we didn’t get that. They do write nice characters though, so there’s that.
‘For a Good Time, Call…’ is probably entertaining enough to satisfy moviegoers in search of a comedy as it expands in theaters this month, but be forewarned that it’s not a classic in the making. The characters are endearing, but the plot isn’t really there at all, so it’s mostly an hour and a half spent with some phone sex operators. If you don’t mind that, you’ll likely have a good time (get it?), but if you want something more from your films, you could potentially be let down. I liked most of it, but it just wasn’t the complete package for me…
-Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!