[Review] – For A Good Time, Call…

22 Sep

Title: For a Good Time, Call…
Year: 2012
Director: Jamie Travis
Writers: Lauren Miller and Katie Anne Naylon
Starring: Ari Graynor, Lauren Miller, Seth Rogen, Justin Long, Mimi Rogers, Nia Vardalos, Mark Webber, James Wolk
MPAA Rating: R, strong sexual content throughout, language and some drug use
Runtime: 85 min
IMDb Rating: 5.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 57%
Metacritic: 55

Ari Graynor is one of those actresses who I think is really good and really funny and should be a bigger name than she currently is. We’ve only seen her in supporting roles before in films like Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (for which I have a weak spot) and Whip It, and getting small arcs on televisions shows like The Sopranos and Fringe. She’s never, however, gotten a lead role, and I every time I saw her on something I made a note of her name and kept thinking to myself that she’d probably knock it out of the park whenever someone gave her one.

Enter Lauren Miller and Katie Anne Naylon, who wrote For a Good Time, Call… based on their own real-life experiences as college roommates. Lauren is the shy one, Katie is the total opposite; it would just seem impossible for these two girls to be room together and be anything close to compatible. So of course Lauren is super disapproving when she finds out that Katie works as a phone sex operator. As life goes, however, Katie is soon out of a job and she sees as good business opportunity and they end up setting up their own phone sex venture and Katie even coming on as a second operator herself. As you might imagine, they then become friends and, as you might also imagine, stuff gets in the way of that new-found friendship.

The real Lauren Miller would play her alter-ego, Lauren Powell in the film, but Ms. Naylon wouldn’t be playing hers, named Katie Steel here. Instead, both co-writers wrote a letter to Ms. Graynor, who they had seen and loved in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and actually based the role on her, they told her that she was the one actress who they felt could balance the sexiness and the vulnerability and the humor of the role. Ms. Graynor said yes, they rounded up a nice little cast with their $1.3 million budget they secured independently, they shot it in Los Angeles over a couple of weeks, they screened it at Sundance this year and there Focus Pictures picked up the film for a cool $2 million.

Sounds like a really neat story, right? Well, yes, it is, and the film is super energetic and rather sweet while continuing to prove that trend that really got started last year that women can be just as raunchy as men. It’s not a perfect film, far from it, it has its fair share of flaws actually, but I still recommend it and I think it really worked as this awesome introduction to the talents of Ms. Graynor, who’s charming as always here and will finally be seen as something other than the best friend or the bitch girlfriend. It’s her performance, along the one of Ms. Miller, that elevates this film to whatever heights it ultimately reaches and while it doesn’t make it stand as a comedic gem it really does provide at least some truth in advertising: this film’s a good time.

In fact, something tells me that with pretty much any other actresses in these roles this film may have just fallen flat on its face. There are a lot of instances here in which we go way too long without a real joke or laugh that in other comedies may be a bit of a drag to get by, but here because you have these two actresses who have this awesome chemistry with each other that in-between is still kind of fun because at least you can see them playing off each other. And then you have these other awesome actors popping up; Justin Long as the mandatory gay best friend actually makes his character transcend that over-played label and Seth Rogen, Ms. Miller’s real-life husband, calls the girl asking for a threesome and gets an outpour of emotions instead.

By the way, I’ve heard one person tell me something like “A phone sex is not a legit option for females in or just out of college”, so maybe more people are thinking this, to which I must reply: “Duh!”. This film never once says that’s the case, this is just good, goofy fun that’s really all about female friendship with more than one homage to the comedies of the 80’s. It’s a sharp and perceptive movie at times, yes it maybe full of clichés and fairly similar in themes it touches upon to a couple of TV shows currently on air, but so what, this one’s at least introducing us to Ari Graynor who, by the way, should most definitely get her own pilot for the next TV season, pay attention network execs.

For a Good Time, Call… is a funny little movie that I do recommend. Is it formulaic? Yes. Does it have broad characters who are typical mismatched roommates who the script makes friends and then pulls back to then reunite again? Yes. So what? In this day and age comedies are usually stuff like this, at least this script takes on a subject that could have potentially been super trite and gross and treats it the right way and it has two stars that are marvelous in how they navigate through it with each other. Call ’em up, it’s a good time.

Grade: B-

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