By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — On its surface (and a sexy and sassy surface it is!), For a Good Time, Call… is a raunchy comedy about phone sex.
But underneath (and an undeniably underlined underneath it is!), it’s a warmhearted romp about platonic female friendship, a few-and-far-between bra-mance instead of the much more common bro-mance.
A bawdy buddy movie, For a Good Time, Call… tells the story of two women, seemingly polar opposites, who hated each other in college as the result of one unfortunate encounter.
Lauren Anne Miller plays the understated but not prudish literary editor Lauren Powell, while Ari Graynor is the upbeat and vivacious Katie Steel, currently living in the no-longer-rent-controlled apartment she inherited from her grandmother.
When, about a decade removed from college, each comes to need a New York City apartment that’s just too expensive (Lauren’s been fired and Katie faces eviction), their mutual friend Jesse, played by Justin Long, suggests that they get over their differences and seeming incompatibility and room together, which the frenemies reluctantly do.
Which is when straitlaced Lauren notices that outgoing Katie makes part of her multiple-jobs living by being a phone sex operator. That’s a bit of a shock to Lauren, as was having her boyfriend break up with her.
So she suggests to Katie that she quit the company that she works for, create her own hotline, and go into the same business for herself, but with Lauren as her business manager.
Of course, in this business, where talk isn’t so cheap after all, sometimes business managers are pressed into service as operators, a lesson that Lauren comes to learn firsthand.
Miller also co-produced and co-wrote the ribald but sweet and consistently amusing screenplay with Katie Anne Naylon for director Jamie Travis, a Canadian making his feature debut with this winningly female-centric take on friendship, sex, and romance that, yes, was scripted by women but directed by a man.
Needless to say, there are scenes with explicit sexual dialogue that’s either naughty or outrageous, depending on your sensibilities, but no graphic nudity. Think of it as a successful application of the risqué-laughs-and-heart formula championed in recent years by Judd Apatow.
With a spotlight shining directly on them, Miller and Graynor are endearing and convincing in what turns out to be a terrific audition reel for them even though each already has a body of acting work.
Long is also in fine, funny form as their gay buddy; Seth Rogen (married to Miller in real life), Ken Marino, and Kevin Smith have their moments in call-in cameos; and Mark Webber scores as a regular caller.
For a Good Time, Call… arrives in the continued wake of Bridesmaids, which demonstrated influentially that women can get R-rated laughs too. It’s a laugh-laden lesson we gratefully relearn.
So we’ll dial 3 stars out of 4 for For a Good Time, Call…. For a good time, see it!