Even when it is enthusiastically diving into hilarious filth, director Jamie Travis' female-relationship comedy “For a Good Time, Call ...” feels like its nastiness is grafted on, that underneath all of its outer trappings of post-“Bridesmaids” brazenness, this could be a “Felicity” episode. Well, only if Felicity were running a phone-sex line.
During college, Lauren (co-screenwriter Lauren Miller) was a demure earth child whose run-in with campus wild child Katie (Ari Graynor, “Celeste and Jesse Forever”) is forever burned on her brain. A decade later, Lauren experiences a terrible breakup with slick and bland Charlie (James Wolk) and needs an apartment — fast. Thanks to longtime buddy Jesse (Justin Long), she finds out about a posh Gramercy Park brownstone, which is great, except it comes with the roommate of Lauren's nightmares.
Katie is loud in most ways, but in her moonlighting job as a phone-sex operator, she is loud and paid for the privilege. Lauren's attempts to secure a job at a publishing house run by blase editor Rachel (played in a cameo performance by Nia Vardalos) prove unsuccessful, and soon Lauren is lured into the business of making pleasurable sounds for fun and profit.
The idea of a phone-sex comedy feels like a mid-1990s concept, slightly quaint in view of the bold and nasty outer frontiers of streaming video, Chatroulette and everything else that can give its cyber-users unwanted viruses. But this antiquated setup fits “For a Good Time, Call ...,” because at its heart, this is a comedy about how female friendships are made and maintained. Fall down the icky rabbit hole of more modern hookups, and the comedy would lose the charming innocence that thrives under the veneer of in-your-face sex talk.
Most of the laughs come from the cameos, including Miller's significant other, Seth Rogen, as a preoccupied airline pilot. As for the rest, “For a Good Time, Call ...” bides its time with off-the-rack jokes about Lauren hiding her new career from her parents (Mimi Rogers and Don McManus) and dithering over whether to forge onward with a publishing job or continue to talk dirty to men (and women). One memorable minor character, baby-voiced operator Krissy (Sugar Lyn Beard), gets an awkward exit when Miller and script collaborator Katie Ann Naylon stretch the jokes about her high-pitched lasciviousness to the straining point.
“For a Good Time, Call ...” has no great ambitions and runs on the chemistry between the comparatively modest Miller and the ultra-brassy Graynor. And like its subject matter, this comedy finishes quickly, with few surprises and a predictable ending. It is a comedy with an easy allure but not enough substance to warrant a deeper relationship.
— George Lang
‘For a Good Time, Call ...'
Starring: Lauren Miller, Ari Graynor, Seth Rogen, Justin Long, Mimi Rogers, Ari Graynor, Nia Vardalos.
(Strong sexual content throughout, language and some drug use)