Mark Reviews Movies

For a Good Time, Call...


1  Stars (out of 4)

Director: Jamie Travis

Cast: Lauren Miller, Ari Graynor, Justin Long, Mark Webber, Sugar Lyn Beard, Mimi Rogers, Don McManus, Nia Vardalos

MPAA Rating: R (for strong sexual content throughout, language and some drug use)

Running Time: 1:26

Release Date: 8/31/12

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Review by Mark Dujsik | August 30, 2012

For a Good Time, Call... does nothing to help fight the nasty, inaccurate belief that women are not as funny as men. The only solace to be had in that regard is that, if men were responsible for exactly the same material, it would still fail to be funny.

Here is one of the oldest sitcom setups in the book: Circumstances force two people, who are complete opposites and can't stand each other, to cohabitate and learn to get along, eventually finding some common ground. The common ground in this case is the need for money and, apparently, the desire to go about earning it in the easiest possible way. The answer is starting a phone sex line.

The comic possibilities of this scenario are limited, and screenwriters Lauren Anne Miller (who also stars in the movie) and Katie Anne Naylon milk them for all they're worth. There are lots of lewd (and sometimes improbable) descriptions of sex, and the men on the other end of the line turn out to be weird and played by recognizable actors (Also not helping the gender stereotype is that one of these cameos constitutes the only genuinely funny scene in the movie: Seth Rogen trying to complete his business before he has to fly a plane and talking like a pilot checking off his instruments the entire time). Perhaps the barely audible, rhythmic slapping sounds are meant to shore up the whole thing. After all, those are funny, right?

The two women at the center of it all are Lauren (Miller) and Katie (Ari Graynor). Lauren's boyfriend (James Wolk) has just announced he's going to Italy for the summer for his job and that he believes the trip is the best time for the two of them to reevaluate their relationship. Lauren didn't think it needed any reevaluation; he says they've become "boring." Also, she needs to pack up her things from his apartment and find a new place to live.

Katie has been living in the apartment of her recently deceased grandmother, but she can no longer afford the rent on her own. The women's mutual friend Jesse (Justin Long, making one wish he or she could find a stronger word than "flamboyant" to describe such a stereotypical performance as the "best gay friend") realizes that the two can help each other. The only problem is that they hate each other after their first and only meeting during their college days, when Katie spilled urine all over Lauren (Don't ask; it will just raise more questions).

It's supposed to be a temporary situation, and the two become increasingly annoyed by the little things they do. Lauren begins looking for a job (A dream one at a publishing company opens), while Katie spends her evening making passionate noises from her bedroom. Eventually, she tells her roommate that she works for a phone sex company. Lauren thinks the terms of Katie's employment are a rip-off and helps her start her own business. Katie handles the calls; Lauren handles the books.

Most of this is embarrassingly rote. Lauren's conservative parents (Mimi Rogers and Don McManus) show up at the worst possible moments, like when Katie is in the middle of servicing a client and the roommates' new, really dirty-minded new employee (Sugar Lyn Beard) is on her way over for a shift or when the women are about to hold a party to celebrate a commercial for their company and a bunch of sex toys are standing on the table. There's a montage of Lauren, who decides she doesn't want to be boring anymore, learning the trade of encouraging men to pay money to masturbate, and in case the opening scene of her with her boyfriend doesn't foreshadow how her personal journey of growth will end, yes, he returns.

Katie has a romantic interest, too, in Sean (Mark Webber), a regular customer with whom Katie spends more time talking than moaning. Both are uncomfortable on a face-to-face date (she because she's not as sexually experienced as the rumors would have it and he because, well, he's the kind of guy to call a phone sex line), and their gradual in-person acquaintance is insufferably sugary.

Worse still is the climax of For a Good Time, Call..., which has two characters apologizing to each other on the phone by saying phrases that are clearly intended to suggest something of a sexual nature. The only problem is that the majority of what they say has only the broadest connection to the actual context of the scene. That's not double entendre; it's just transparent and obnoxious.

Copyright 2012 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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