As a comedy about two women who team up to form a phone sex company, director Jamie Travis’ For A Good Time, Call… gets a good number of things right, from a realistic relationship between the two female leads to a level of dirtiness that never becomes obscene or vulgar. The problem, however, is beyond that there really isn’t much else to it.
The story begins with Lauren (Lauren Anne Miller) in serious trouble. Within the span of a week she finds herself jobless and her longtime boyfriend (James Wolk) breaks up with her, telling her that she is too boring. Unable to afford a New York apartment by herself, Lauren’s only option is to move in with Katie (Ari Graynor), an outgoing former college classmate who Lauren remembers from a gross incident in college. While their arrangement is strained from the beginning, neither woman wanting anything to do with the other, their relationship changes when Lauren discovers that Katie is actually a phone sex operator and they decide to go into business together.
Looking past the overdone odd-couple premise – and you need to if you want to be able to enjoy the film – the problem with the core relationship in the movie is that it’s cute, but not really that funny. Though Miller and Graynor have great chemistry and it’s fun to watch them battle each other at the start – Katie is particularly great while childishly trying to stop Lauren from touching anything that used to belong to her dead grandmother – once their friendship begins to grow the humor in their everyday dynamic begins to disappear. Their interactions never ring false, but as the conflict disappears so does the fun, and when they do finally find the conflict again it's far more dramatic than comedic. The film works to compensate for this by featuring more of the two male characters – Jesse, their mutual gay friend played by Justin Long, and Sean, one of Katie’s regular phone sex clients played by Mark Webber – but the laughs are more slight smiles and chuckles than tear-inducing crack-ups.
For A Good Time, Call… is at the top of its game whenever the two women are on the phone and working to please their customers. In addition to the great cameos (that I won’t spoil here), it’s where the movie shows its real creative spark, and gives us something we haven’t seen before. From the pilot who wants a threesome while sitting in an airport bathroom stall to a taxi driver who decides not to wait until the end of his shift to get off, these are the scenes that capitalize on the unique aspect of the plot and while there aren’t enough of them, they’re what keeps the film going.
Unlike many R-rated comedies where crude vulgarities are the key to laughs, For A Good Time, Call…’s approach to sex is actually surprising and refreshing. While the film is certainly dirty – as mentioned, we listen in on multiple phone sex conversations – Miller (who co-wrote the script) and Katie Anne Naylon never expect a cheap reaction just from the word “blowjob.” It’s hard to call the movie mature and it doesn’t work every time, but the approach to the dirtier material is respectable and works in the film’s favor overall.
Travis’ comedy is more hit than miss, but the balance isn’t as one-sided as an audience might hope. It’s great to see a realistic female friendship portrayed on screen, but it could have used a few more big laughs.