For A Good Time Call: A Movie Review
For a Good Time Call may very well be the biggest surprise of the year. It is raunchy, hilarious, surprisingly sweet and just a really good time. The story, which follows former college enemies who move in together and, in order to make ends meet, start a phone sex line, is one that is very near to writers Lauren Miller and Katie Anne Naylon’s hearts. It is in fact, based on a true story of the girls’ experiences being college roommates and, yes, phone sex operators. The reality amidst the absurdity of edible panties and fake Chinese accents is evident and Lauren and Katie (yes, they named their characters after themselves) come off as the type of fun, smart, independent women that you want to go grab drinks with after work.
The film is rated R, for strong sexual content throughout, language and some drug use, but it isn’t at all perverse or overbearing. It strikes the same tones as a lot of Judd Apatow films (Pineapple Express, Knocked Up) mixed with the unassuming sweetness of a Nora Ephron movie. And the jokes just keep on coming, I don’t think movie theaters have shaken that hard since the release of Bridesmaids.
One of the greatest strengths of the film is its bizarrely gender- neutral quality. In its basic outline, the film itself is a romantic comedy following the growing friendship between two women, not dissimilar to the Lena/Marnie dynamic on HBO’s girls. But the film provides enough physical humor, dirty jokes and girls prancing around in their lingerie to elevate it from ‘Chick- Flickdom’ and turn it into a hilarious classic that everyone can enjoy. It also comes at a really smart time in cinema, where funny women seems to be getting their chance in the spotlight, the way paved by comedy giants like Amy Poehler, Tina Fey and Kristin Wiig.
Director Jamie Travis, whose two short film trilogies, The Patterns and The Saddest Children in the World, both premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, takes on mainstream comedy with For a Good Time Call. He manages to make the indie film, with a miniscule budget by Hollywood standards and a 14 day shoot, look glossy and stylish and whips along the narrative in a well paced story line that won’t make you look at your watch once in the 85 minutes.
Lauren Anne Miller accepts the challenge of acting as herself, and though only those who know her (like her hubby Seth Rogen) can tell us if she succeeded, she plays ‘Lauren’ gutsy and passionate and comes across as a smart and confident young woman discovering herself.
Her partner in crime and bodacious blonde beauty Ari Graynor kills it as the promiscuous and devilishly witty Katie. The raspy voiced bombshell has held previous roles in movies like What’s Your Number and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, but this is clearly a breakout role for her. She hits every joke with the perfect punch and sassiness that her character demands and then when you least expect it she is heartbreakingly sentimental and vulnerable.
The only ripple in the otherwise seamless comedy is unfortunately, Justin Long. While his character, Jesse, is well written as the gay best friend who initially pushes Katie and Lauren together, Long seems miscast and very caricature in an otherwise genuine movie.
The tagline for the movie is “Lose your hang-ups, find your calling” and the cast and crew of For a Good Time Call have certainly found theirs.