For A Good Time, Call...
Is there a female equivalence to "bromance?" "BFFs," perhaps? But for a working definition look no further than For A Good Time, Call..., a breezy trifle about the partnership - both professional and personal - between two New York twentysomethings. Playing like a pilot to a HBO series, maybe a sexed-up "2 Broke Girls," Jamie Travis's indie comedy has the same kind of brash energy that drove "Bridesmaids" and the upcoming "Bachelorette"; that is, the female raunch rom-com, only this one comes with dildos along with the dirty talk.
The talk itself isn't all that dirty, because screenwriters Lauren Anne Miller and Katie Anne Naylon keep the action R-rated. Even the premise is a quaint notion of the phone sex lines, a business model that seems dated in the age of Web (and now digital) hook-up sights. Maybe it's because Naylon herself once had a job working phone sex lines.
The filmmakers take pains to point out, however, that this niche enterprise still has its fans; enough, it seems, for Katie (Ari Graynor) and Lauren (Lauren Anne Miller) to build a viable business. Perhaps if the film is a success, the Republicans can cite it as an example of their "We Built It" campaign, because it's certainly doubtful that any government money went into this business (or the making of the film, for that matter).
The film works off the Apatow 101 formula: two disparate types who hate each other are forced to live together in order to stay afloat in hyper-expensive Manhattan. Katie, the more free-living of the pair, lucked out by landing her late grandmother’s Gramercy Park rent-controlled apartment. But when it is de-regulated, she’s forced to find a roommate.
Her gay best friend Jesse (the reliably charming Jason Long) hooks her up with Lauren, a Long Island Princess with lofty goals in publishing. Lauren loves the apartment but hates Katie -- and the feeling is mutual. The reason is an unfortunate incident when they met in college that ended with Katie giving Lauren a golden shower of sorts. But Lauren has recently been dumped by her self-centered boyfriend (James Wolk), who tells her she’s boring, and she needs a place to live, so she makes the best of the situation.
One of Katie’s numerous jobs is to work for a phone sex line, which initially offends the prissy Lauren; that is, until she takes over the business side and helps Katie start her own phone sex service. Within weeks, they’re buying new furniture and expanding their personnel in the person of Sugar Lyn Beard (most funny as a sex worker with a mission).
Then Lauren takes the plunge. Katie instructs her in phone sex technique and before you can dial 1-900-MMM-MMMM (what they name their phone line), Lauren is boring no more, even going to a job interview dressed in one of Katie’s provocative dresses.
Of course, everything goes south between the friends by the film’s third reel. But by then, the actresses have created such good will that it’s impossible not to care for them.
Grayer ably keeps the brash, loud Katie from being a stereotype by bringing out her soft side with believability. Miller deftly blossoms from a mousy goodie-two-shoes into a self-assured contemporary woman.
The film benefits from cameo appearances by Kevin Smith and Seth Rogen as a pair of phone sex customers. There’s also a sweet turn by Mark Webber as a shy filmmaker who takes his relationship with Katie off-line.
"For A Good Time, Call..." never rises the sitcom level, but is diverting enough, largely because of the chemistry between its two enterprising leads. For a few laughs and, yes a good time, you could do a lot worse on a late-summer evening.