Dialing up the laughs

For A Good Time, Call… will ring a bell with Bridesmaids fans.

New York City is a tough place to survive, especially on your own. So when Lauren’s (Lauren Anne Miller) boyfriend takes off for Italy for the summer and Katie (Ari Graynor) can’t afford her apartment by herself, the old college frenemies are forced to move in together. What results is an unlikely friendship and a very profitable business in the indie comedy For A Good Time, Call…

The women clash immediately, and it’s easy to see why — Lauren is a conscientious, humdrum perfectionist while Katie is a leopard-clad wannabe writer who works a variety of odd jobs and exercises on a stripper pole. The situation only becomes more awkward when Lauren overhears Katie entertaining men in her room. When one of Katie’s exploits takes a seemingly dangerous turn, Lauren interrupts only to find her roommate having phone sex. Naturally, the prudish Lauren narrows her eyes at Katie’s job as a phone sex operator. But when she is laid off and then doesn’t land her dream job at a top publishing company, Lauren takes it upon herself to help Katie start her own operation — only handling the business side of things, of course.

Female-driven, raunchy comedies like this now beg comparison to last summer’s Bridesmaids, as both feature flawed female characters often behaving badly, resulting in an arsenal of highly sexual and/or vulgar jokes. That, of course, just comes with the territory — they are running a phone sex line after all. Although For a Good Time, Call… certainly resembles Bridesmaids in several significant ways, the greatest likeness is in the spirit. Both movies celebrate female relationships and female sexuality, and both are completely unapologetic in their bold portrayal.

The strong female voice should be unsurprising, since (like Bridesmaids) the film was penned by a female team — old roommates and Florida State University alums Lauren Anne Miller and Katie Anne Naylon.

As the film progresses, the focus on the growing friendship between the protagonists takes a somewhat awkward turn. Thinking about it later, I realize that by including the awkward, first “I love you,” followed by an even stranger scene involving a “three-way” phone call, the film is spoofing the Rom-Com genre. The overall structure and arc of the film reflects this as well, though much more subtly and effectively than the abovementioned missteps that felt a beat or two off.

The blame for the awkwardness is on the inexperienced writing team, as the chemistry between the two main actresses is great. Though Lauren Anne Miller plays a great high-strung perfectionist, Ari Graynor’s performance is the standout. She’s bold and bawdy, but also sensitive, especially when it comes to a little romance she strikes up with one of her regulars.

The film also benefits from a solid supporting cast, most notably Justin Long as the sassy gay friend that initially pushes the ladies to live together. Although the sassy gay friend is a bit tired and unoriginal in my opinion, I can’t say Long’s performance wasn’t entertaining. Mimi Rogers and Don McManus appear as Lauren’s unsurprisingly conservative parents, and Nia Vardalos plays the jaded, unapologetic publishing exec who interviews Lauren. There are also a couple cameos as far as the Johns (or whatever you call men who buy phone sex) that make the audience go wild.

Despite the minor qualms, For A Good Time, Call… is a solid film that won’t disappoint anyone who’s a fan of the raunchy, offensive comedy.

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