Review of For a Good Time, Call...
on 2012-11-14 16:27
If you've ever wondered what a raunchy bro comedy would look like without the bros, you have your answer in For a Good Time, Call..., an indie passion project comedy from co-writers Lauren Anne Miller and Katie Anne Nayloon. The film tells the story of two unlikely roommates, who while trying to survive post-college life in New York City, team up on a phone sex line for fun, profit, and personal development.
For a Good Time, Call... adds some welcome variety to the R-rated comedy sphere and serves up some good laughs, but ultimately, the laughs it earns are crowded out by the gags that don't get there, and the movie doesn't rise above the constraints of its subgenre, even while it shirks them.
In true indie fashion, in addition to being co-writer and producer on the project, Lauren Anne Miller stars as Lauren Powell, a straight laced victim of helicopter parenting who's constructed life is about to unravel.
She has a nice but uninspired relationship with her nice but uninspired boyfriend and lives with him in his nice but uninspired apartment. They talk about the thread count of the sheets during sex and don't seem to be going anywhere as couple. When he complains of the anemia of their relationship, she, desperate to keep her boat from being rocked, immediately offers him a blowjob, because as far as she knows, guys are so shallow that if he's unhappy, it must be the sex. The way to a man's heart must be through his urethra, right? In short order, he kicks her out of the apartment. Around the same time, the nice friend of her parents that gave her a job out of college suddenly closes up shot, putting her out of a job.
Meanwhile, Ari Graynor plays Katie, an airy blonde who has been living it up in a swanky rent controlled apartment she came by via her grandmother. She is rudely awakened from her chillaxing when her landlord starts showing the apartment to prospective renters. It turns out that the building has fallen out of rent control, and if she wants to stay acquainted with her sunny square footage and nice fixtures, she'll have to cough up a lot more money or find a roommate.
When Lauren and Katie are brought together by a mutual friend (Justin Long), it seems they have a history. We are told during an oddly placed, urine soaked flashback that the pair met years beforehand, and are now poised to become each other's roommate from hell.
After being treated to a sequence of 20-somethings being awful to each other, we and Lauren discover that Katie's principle source of income is as talent for a phone sex line. In a rare moment of self-actualization, Lauren points out how much more money Katie would keep if she went independent, and proposes they go into business together. The roommates set up a new line, with Katie as operator and Lauren running the business side of things. Movie-montage quick, they've found success and the money is rolling in. Before lone, a blushing Lauren debuts as a second operator to handle the increased call volume.
This setup generates a number of story beats that would be fertile ground both for drama and for humor. Unfortunately, instead of mining these beats any deeper than surface level or finding humor particular to the characters rather than attendant to the setup, the film spends most of it's efforts on easy grabs. Most of the jokes come not from a place of wit, but from a place of, “Oh no she didn't. She did not just say that!” It's not that the material is offensive. It's that it's just kind of dull and not nearly so clever as it thinks it is. In a scene late in the movie, a series of double entendres are so on the nose that they may as well be single entendres, and either way, the humor gets lost in the joke.
One point in the films favor is that it is rated a solid R rather than a spineless PG-13. Going for an R gives the filmmakers latitude necessary for a story like this. Watching this movie going into contortions to avoid an R would have been an entertainment on its own, but not one that anyone intended. For a Good Time, Call... is certainly not bashful. It's just too bad the latitude that was gained was mostly used to go to the obvious places instead of interesting places.
One such interesting place, one that gets the short end of the stick in the film, is a love story between Katie and one of her regular callers (Mark Webber). This plot thread is secondary, even tertiary, to the rest of the film, but is touching and effective. It could have easily been he focus of another, better movie rather than a crowded out breath of fresh air in this one.
As stated, there are some good laughs in here, but with their focus so centered on female and male anatomy, the filmmakers let their eye wander from the human heart, which where all good story telling, and all good comedy, ultimately comes from.
Of course, humor is incredibly subjective. If you've liked other raunchy comedies, you stand a good chance of liking this one. Here's an easy guide: If words like "quieffing" make you uncomfortable, you'll probably be offended by this movie. If you don't know what words like "quieffing" even mean, you'll definitely be offended. On the other hand, if words like “quieffing” make you giggle, you'll probably enjoy this movie.
You just won't enjoy it as much as you could have if the movie wasn't spending so much time giggling to itself.