Amusing For a Good Time, Call… Disconnects Mid-Conversation
Lauren Powell (Lauren Miller) is at a crossroads. The wannabe literary editor is suddenly out on the street, her longtime boyfriend Charlie (James Wolk) abruptly breaking up with her. With few options, she is forced to move into the apartment of Katie Steele (Ari Graynor), a former college acquaintance she didn’t get along with then and figures she’ll have just as much trouble stomaching now. But mutual best friend Jesse (Justin Long) insists this is the best situation for both young women, insisting they’ll become the greatest of bosom buddies if they put their prejudices aside and keep an open mind.
Jesse never could have imagined what it would be that would make his premonition for Lauren and Katie a sisterly reality. See, the latter has been moonlighting as a phone sex operator, and never one to let a good idea stagnate the former discovers a way for both of them to make a great deal of money if they went into business for themselves. Soon the duo are enjoying the type of success neither could have fathomed beforehand, and even if their endeavors are a bit on the X-rated side, Lauren and Katie couldn’t be prouder about what they have achieved.
For a Good Time, Call…, written by Miller and Katie Anne Naylon and helmed by award-winning short film director Jamie Travis, isn’t without its charms. Loosely influenced by events the writers went through as college roommates, there is a refreshing sweetness to the film that helps make this an inspired look at female friendship and empowerment that had me broadly grinning. Miller and Graynor are perfectly cast, each showing more layers and shadings then one would anticipate based on the film’s early, rather simplistic moments.
However, even though there are plenty of little moments throughout that had me chuckling, sadly this movie doesn’t work. The dialogue tends to feel forced and stilted, everyone speaking to one another in Whit Stillman-like cadences that kept me at arm’s length. This purposeful staccato delivery subverts the scenario far more often than it supports it, and if not for the likeability and strengths of the two actresses it’s likely I’d have found the movie insufferable.
This is a pity because there is wit and intelligence to the screenwriting, and I like that Miller and Naylon have presented the phone sex scenario as more of a red herring utilized to talk about female bonding and sexuality in frank, refreshingly adult terms. Lauren and Katie are authentic young women having discussions that are easy to relate to, each of them talking about issues and topics universal in their honesty and appeal.
But frustratingly I still found the movie impossible to engage with on an emotional level. I never felt brought into the proceedings, never felt I was part of the conversations Lauren and Katie were having, and unlike last year’s Bridesmaids or September’s raucous comedy Bachelorette, this one tends to meander aimlessly for far too much of its breezily brief 86-minute running time. I didn’t care what happened to these women, wasn’t sure it mattered if their friendship survived or if their mutual love for one another would ever be openly expressed.
Miller and Naylon are talented writers, and I’m curious to see whatever it is they can come up with next. I just don’t feel like their script this time out ever fully catches fire, and while I appreciate that they’ve constructed multidimensional female heroines, I equally wish they somehow could have made them worth my caring about. For a Good Time, Call… disconnects in the middle of its conversation, and as amusing as what it attempts to say might be having the call be so unctuously truncated is annoying to say the least.
– Review reprinted courtesy of the SGN in Seattle
Film Rating: 2½ (out of 4)