The female buddy adventure is doing well with this light comedy.
For a Good Time, Call . . .
Director: Jamie Travis
Screenplay: Lauren Miller (Girls! Girls! Girls), Katie Anne Naylon
Cast: Ari Graynor (The Sitter), Lauren Miller (50/50)
Runtime: 86 min.
by John DeSando
For a Good Time, Call . . . is not the sexiest movie you’ll see this year, even though it is about phone sex with some very racy language. It isn’t about gay friendship either, although some of the situations might suggest that notion. No, it’s about the business of friendship, the need to accept and nurture differences until real love emerges, not phony stuff.
Frenemies from college, Lauren (Lauren Miller) and Katie (Ari Graynor), are thrown together in their living arrangement and, overcoming their original dislike for each other (Katie spilled a large cup of urine on Lauren in college), start a successful phone-sex business. Yet that raunchy language doesn’t shock probably because it’s so dislocated in phone lines that it loses any immediacy and sensuality.
The real heat of this light comedy is in the growing love between the two principals. As different as they are blond and brunette, they are alike in their passionate need for loving relationships, not the superficial bromances of Judd Apatow, but more like his sisterly production of Bridesmaids, itself raunchy but with wit that transcends the male equivalent comedies.
For a Good Time is more like I Love You, Man as it navigates close same sex friendship. The two actresses are important to the film’s success: cute and smart, Graynor and Miller are distaff Butch and Sundance best buddy characters. Graynor has comedic heft and looks that remind me of Bette Midler; Miller’s opening scene with lover James Wolk’s Charlie is one of the most realistic takes on a split in recent memory.
The film is not without its formulas and clichés, such as enemies becoming friends, the gay best friend, and the clueless rich parents. The last third of the film is filled with formulaic resolution, especially the breakup that will never stick. But that lack of imagination serves to highlight the imaginative novelty of new women who will say “I love you” to each other loud, openly, and without guilt.
The film fails to give any insight into the art and success of phone sex or its enduring allure. That Katie is falling for a regular customer, Sean (mark Webber), does more to open the question about the downside of the biz, namely the potential perverts, than it does to expand the romantic possibilities of the comedy itself.
Perhaps that’s another comedy that the Bridesmaids and Hangover filmmakers, including Judd Apatow, would like to try, given that women have now permanently entered into hitherto male only romantic comedy territory.
John DeSando co-hosts WCBE 90.5’s It’s Movie Time and Cinema Classics, which can be heard streaming and on-demand at WCBE.org.
He also appears on Fox 28’s Man Panel
Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com