“For A Good Time Call”
The premise is actually kind of plausible: two girls who may be unlikely possibilities as friends (because of a previous negative encounter) wind up rooming with each other because each needs someone to share expenses with, and living in New York City is expensive.
The young woman who’s already living at the apartment, Katie (Ari Graynor), used to have her grandmother there, but her grandmother died. The other girl, Lauren (Lauren Miller), has just suffered a double blow: her boyfriend broke up with her (they were living together in his apartment), and she lost her job. Her prosperous Long Island parents would gladly take her back, but though loving, they’re also kind of oppressive and insufferable. The two young women have a mutual friend, Jesse (Justin Long), the token gay guy, who vouches for both of them, and so at first we have a kind of a female version of the Odd Couple. Katie is loud and boisterous and “out there,” Lauren is quiet and reserved and maybe a little snooty.
Then Lauren discovers that Katie’s “real job” is doing nails. And then finds out that her “other job” is answering a phone sex line. At first, this causes conflict between them, until Lauren convinces Katie that she’s not being fairly compensated by the service, and they could set up their own much more profitably.
At first, Lauren is content to be the Business Manager. But before long, she is taking calls, as well, and the comic effect is the quiet little shy, almost-mousey naive girl learning to be….well, brassy. At least over the phone.
In the interest of developing the relationship between the two women (which is really what this movie is about), somehow they manage to throw many of their “real” relationships under the bus, because they’re all second fiddle. Lauren’s parents are dismissed as “judgmental,” and Katie’s parents are nowhere in evidence, so family connections don’t seem to count for much, either.
They hire an assistant, once, who sounded like she would work out long enough to allow the two of them to occasionally take a break, and maybe even go out to dinner together, but then the assistant, it turns out, was a closet Christian, who then “evangelized” by telling her callers they were all going to Hell. So now we’ve thrown Christianity under the bus, also.
The mutual friend, Jesse, is also kind of pushed aside in favor of the young women themselves deciding they “love” each other (which seems more emotional than physical, at least for now).
Are we happy that the enterprising women find contentment and self-sufficiency together? Well, yes, they’re likable and we’re glad they’re doing well. Do we laugh along the way? Well, yes, although the jokes are definitely of the risqué variety. But they never really try to be merely erotic with this film: there’s no nudity, just a lot of talking about sex. And part of the parody is showing the faces of some of the silly guys on the end of the line (cameo performances by some famous comic actors), trying to maintain their fantasies, somehow, though also well aware that the interest on the other end of the line is somewhere between feigned and phony. Sure, it’s a sad parody of actual sexuality. But at least nobody’s going to contract any diseases from each other.
“For A Good Time Call” is definitely not for the prudish, but it’s one of those new “femcoms” in the “Bridesmaids” realm, whose popularity indicates that this type of comedy is likely to enjoy a marketable young female urban audience.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church