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.