FOR A GOOD TIME, CALL...
DIRECTED BY Jamie Travis
STARS Lauren Anne Miller, Ari Graynor
HANGING ON THE TELEPHONE: Lauren (Lauren Ann Miller) and Katie (Ari Graynor) help men with call ‘bating in For a Good Time, Call... (Photo: Focus Features)
Like a boulder gathering speed as it tumbles off a precipice, For a Good Time, Call... endures a rocky opening act before finally hitting its stride at full speed. While it's fortunately not a case of too little, too late - the film still earns a recommendation - a better buildup and a few more potent gags might have elevated this from bridesmaid status in the comedy genre to Bridesmaids status as an across-the-board hit.
Lauren Ann Miller (who also co-wrote the script with newbie Katie Anne Naylon) and Ari Graynor star as Lauren and Katie, two dissimilar roommates who initially dislike each other but eventually come to be best friends. Both are struggling financially, and after Lauren loses a coveted job at a New York City publishing house, she discovers that Katie makes money on the side as a phone-sex operator, conducting business from within the confines of her own bedroom. Seeing the potential of such a racket - and desperate enough to try anything - Lauren puts her business savvy to work, handling the behind-the-scenes activity while Katie continues to give good voice. Eventually, the straight-laced Lauren grows tired of being "boring" and decides to join Katie in talking dirty to horny clients.
For a Good Time, Call... adheres to formula a bit too often: Naturally, the ladies' best friend is gay (Justin Long is appealing in the role), and viewers can see the wedge that will drive the friends apart even before the butter on the popcorn begins coagulating. And there are some blown opportunities as well: Sugar Lyn Beard is delightful as a squeaky-voiced girl who joins the phone-sex biz, but rather than keep her around, the filmmakers waste her by clumsily employing her character for a finger-wagging gag that fizzles out. As for the cameos, one (Kevin Smith) works while another (Seth Rogen) does not.
Yet what makes the film succeed is the relationship between Lauren and Katie. We've had our share of movies focusing on the good-natured nobility of - God, how I hate this word - "bromances," but Bridesmaids aside, most comedies centering on female friendships tend to paint the ladies in a grotesque light (Something Borrowed, Bride Wars, etc.). This picture explores the give-and-take dynamics between the pair in a sympathetic and believable manner, with both actresses excelling in their characterizations. It provides for a fairly good time at the movies and, best of all, the ticket cost won't break down to $2.99 a minute.