For a Good Time, Call … (R)


Movie Info


Cast: Ari Graynor, Lauren Anne Miller, James Wolk, Nia Vardalos, Justin Long.

Director: Jamie Travis.

Screenwriters: Katie Anne Naylon, Lauren Anne Miller.

Producers: Katie Anne Naylon, Lauren Anne Miller, Josh Kesselman.

A Focus Features release. Running time: 88 minutes. Vulgar language, sexual situations, explicit sex talk, adult themes. Playing at area theaters.

As any New Yorker will tell you, the single biggest challenge of living in the city is finding an affordable apartment. Compromises must always be made: Roommates, fifth-floor walk-ups, long walks to subway stations, sketchy neighborhoods, deep credit and reference checks. By the time you have a small patch of living space to call your own — and not everyone succeeds at getting one — the feeling is euphoric.

In For a Good Time, Call …, Lauren (Lauren Anne Miller, who also co-wrote the screenplay) gets dumped by her boyfriend and is forced to move out. Her spastically effeminate friend Jesse (Justin Long, drawing one time too many from the funny gay-guy schtick) sets her up with Katie (Ari Graynor), who is about to be evicted from her swanky rent-controlled apartment unless she finds a roommate. The two women barely know each other — until Lauren discovers Katie runs a phone-sex operation from her apartment, and a business partnership is born.

For a Good Time, Call … marks the directorial debut of Jamie Travis, who could have used a year or two more in film school (the lighting is drab, the set-ups ugly, the performances pitched to deafening-shrill). Everything in the movie is played for clownish laughs — oh my gosh, Lauren’s parents have dropped in for an unexpected visit! — and even though the characters are New Yorkers who should be at least a tiny bit savvy about life in the big city, the characters behave like country bumpkins who just unpacked their U-Haul. And the girls’ phone-sex routines are neither funny nor a turn-on. They sound like dialogue written by people who have never so much as flirted with someone at a bar.

There are several cameos in For a Good Time, Call … by actors portraying the girls’ phone-sex clients, including Kevin Smith and Seth Rogen, but they’ve been clearly been left to improvise, and they don’t put much effort into their routines. For a Good Time, Call … would have probably gone straight to video without their presence. My guess is that they pitched in as a favor. What they should have done, though, is advised their pals to scrap the entire project. For a good time, don’t.

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