Intriguing For a Good Time, Call… Doesn’t Connect
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 claiming together they are nothing short of boring. 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; sure they’ll become the greatest of bosom buddies if they just put their prejudices aside and agree to keep an open mind.
Lauren Miller and Ari Graynor in For a Good Time, Call... © Focus Features
Even though he’s right, Jesse could never have fathomed what it would be that would end up bringing Lauren and Katie into the bonds of sisterly friendship. 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 the both of them to make good money if they go into business for themselves. Suddenly the duo are eyeing the type of success neither could have fathomed beforehand, and even if their endeavors are a bit on the X-rated side both couldn’t be prouder about their mutual achievements.
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 themselves went through as college roommates, there is a refreshing sweetness to the film, an inspired look at female friendship and empowerment that had me smiling ear to ear. Both Miller and Graynor are perfectly cast as the leads, each showing more layers and shadings then one would anticipate based on the film’s early, rather simplistic moments.
Yet even with all that being so, even though there were plenty of a little segments here and there that had me chuckling loudly, overall this movie sadly doesn’t work. The dialogue tends to be stilted, oftentimes forced, everyone speaking to one another in Whit Stillman-like cadences that kept me at arm’s length. The staccato nature of the lines subverts the scenario at almost every turn, and if not for the likeability and strengths of the two actresses it’s likely the movie would be borderline insufferable.
Which is a pity because there is wit and intelligence to the writing, and I like the fact that Miller and Naylon have presented the phone sex scenario as more of a red herring in order to talk about female bonding and sexuality in frank, refreshingly adult terms. Lauren and Katie come across like real young women, having discussions easy to relate to, talking about issues and topics universal in their honesty and appeal.
But that hardly matters if the movie itself is impossible to engage with on an emotional level. I never felt like I was brought into the proceedings, never felt like I was part of the conversations, and unlike last year’s Bridesmaids or September’s raucous female-driven comedy Bachelorette with Kirsten Dunst and Isla Fisher For a Good Time, Call… frustratingly just sits there meandering in circles for far too much of its brief, 86-minute running time. I didn’t care what happened to Lauren and Katie, wasn’t sure it mattered if their friendship survived or if it they’re mutual love for one another would ever be expressed.
Miller and Naylon show they have talent as writers, and I’m quite curious to see what it is they can come up with next. I just don’t feel like their script for this particular feature ever catches fire, and while I appreciate that they’ve constructed multidimensional female heroines I equally wish they somehow could have also made them worth caring about. For a Good Time, Call… doesn’t connect, and as engaging as the conversation can sometimes be overall this is one call I felt like hanging up on more times than I care to admit.
- Review reprinted courtesy of the SGN in Seattle
Film Rating: êê (out of 4)