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For a Good Time, Call…

2012 | 85 min | R | 2.39:1

For a Good Time, Call…


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Theatrical release date

 31 August, 2012
 02 November, 2012

Country of origin

 United States

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For a Good Time, Call… Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, September 7, 2012

“For a Good Time, Call…” is the rare movie about the phone sex trade that doesn’t treat the experience as flypaper for dysfunction, instead generating a flighty, colorful atmosphere of salacious activity to backdrop a thin but merry story of friendship. It’s rarely funny, yet it sustains a jovial mood of naughty business, supported by two vivacious performances from Ari Graynor and Lauren Anne Miller. Indecent enough to fluster prudes and warm enough to win over female audiences, “For a Good Time, Call…” is only undone by its pedestrian screenwriting, which is so slavish to formula, it comes to destroy the big screen party director Jamie Travis is fighting to maintain.

After suffering a cruel break-up with her longtime boyfriend, Lauren (Lauren Anne Miller) is hunting for a place to stay. Lauren’s only option is to move in with Katie (Ari Graynor), a free spirit who accidentally dumped a cup of urine on her during their college years together. Longtime enemies, mutual pal Jesse (Justin Long) hopes to build a bridge of friendship between the pair. With her professional options running out, Lauren looks to assist Katie with her fledgling phone sex business, helping her to set up a professional system of payment and clients. Quickly becoming a raging success, Katie tempts her roommate into the gig, with the pair blossoming as heavy breathers, bonding tightly as Lauren breaks out of her shell, while the 1-900 queen confronts her own issues of virginity by dating a caller (Mark Webber). Spending every minute of the summer together, reality soon sets in when Lauren’s professional life returns with an opportunity, leaving Katie to question their alliance.

Only in a movie could a man who frequently calls up a phone sex line and openly admits to ejaculating on his coffee table be considered a viable dating option. This fantasy is part of the fun of “Good Time,” which does away with the icky parts of the vocation to plow ahead as a comedy, even hauling in a few celebrity cameos (including Kevin Smith, Ken Marino, and Miller’s real-life husband, Seth Rogen) to ease viewers into peppered conversations about body orifices. The screenplay (credited to Miller and Katie Anne Naylon) is pure frosting for the opening hour, creating an infantilized world of BFFdom for the lead characters, who treat the possibility of sharing an apartment like an extended sleepover, building an increasingly exciting relationship that’s confessional and uncharacteristic for someone as uptight as Lauren.

The joy in Graynor and Miller’s performances is infectious, finding their jubilant way with baby talk and squealy reactions delightful to watch. The pair has real chemistry together, coming across as genuine pals teaming up to conquer the sexually frustrated men of New York City. Graynor’s splendid with the dominant role, playing up her loose cannon character without overdoing the snark, while Miller explores the modest side of the movie, making the less flashy role pop with defined discomfort and developing confidence. The twosome makes “Good Time” shine as bright as it does, supported with lovely digital cinematography by James Laxton, who accentuates Crayola colors and sharpness to bring out crisp features and hues, helping Travis acquire his celebratory tone.

If “Good Time” just remained in its bubble of playful perversion with two spunky ladies, the film would’ve been just fine. Instead, the screenplay conjures up a break-up-to-make-up climatic scenario that’s so hackneyed, Graynor looks as though she’s being held at gunpoint to perform it. It’s abrupt and useless, dividing the women artificially to urge the feature into formula it doesn’t need to succeed. Something as frothy as “Good Time” should avoid dramatics like the plague, yet the fear of a straightforward featherweight approach comes to sink the movie, treating the central relationship seriously when it’s more secure and expressive as pure candy. In a picture of confusing details (a college flashback to 2002 references the Macarena and Lisa Loeb’s “Stay”), giving the effort gravity is the most baffling of them all.

Starring: Ari Graynor, Lauren Miller, Justin Long, Seth Rogen, Nia Vardalos, Mimi Rogers
Director: Jamie Travis

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