For a Good Time, Call… (2012)
Director: Jamie Travis
Writer: Lauren Miller & Katie Anne Naylon
Starring: Ari Graynor, Lauren Miller, Seth Rogen, Justin Long, Mimi Rogers, Nia Vardalos, Mark Webber, James Wolk
Country: United States
MPAA Rating: R
Time: 85 minutes
USA Release: 8/31/2012 (Limited)
On DVD (USA): 1/22/2013
For a long time raunchy comedies were primarily a man thing ranging from movies like 2005’s “The 40 Year Old Virgin” to 2010’s “Hot Tub Time Machine”. Those movies and everything in between have featured mostly a male cast of top actors or comedies. But in the past year or two raunchy comedies have tired doing the same thing but with an all female cast. While you may think women might have a harder time selling the raunch they have proved to be as successful as the men with not only this film “For a Good Time, Call…” but also with last year’s hit “Bridesmaids”.
After losing pretty much everything important in her life Lauren (Lauren Miller) is in desperate need of a place to live and a life adjustment. So when her best friend Jesse (Justin Long) says he knows the perfect place there is nothing left for her to do but jump. Unfortunately the said person looking for a roommate just happens to be the person that Lauren despises the most, Katie (Ari Graynor) with whom Lauren experienced probably the worst first and only meeting ever. While at first things between the two are your basic differences based on personality and also the fact that the two hate each other, things get even worse when Lauren learns of Katie’s job as a phone sex operator. But it’s when Lauren loses her job that an unspoken treaty between the two form in order to start their own phone sex business.
While raunchy comedies are not always my go to movie, I quite enjoyed this one. What initially brought this to my attention was the fact that Ari Graynor, who I think is a brilliant and sometimes overlooked (hopefully not anymore) comedic actress was going to be one of the stars. I had been a fan of hers since I saw “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” back in 2008. Coincidentally it turns out, that is the role that had writers Lauren Miller and Katie Anne Naylon wanting Graynor specifically for this film. For both Miller and Naylon “For a Good Time, Call…” is their first feature film screenplay (Miller has previously written a few short films), and I must say it makes a huge impression. The story from what I understand is based on Miller and Naylon college years, and from the story it seems to have been pretty wild. While some of the storyline that doesn’t deal with the phone sex operator part is a bit predictable for the kind of film it is, it’s nothing that will bore you, and in some ways might actually warm your heart. But it won’t be for long because the attention grabber is the comedy and raunchy gags.
After watching the film I was curious about the production and director’s work along with the writers. I found out that the film was made in about sixteen days and completely funded by writers Miller and Naylon. The director Jamie Travis made his feature film debut with this film, having previously like Miller doing some short films. Travis’ directing is nothing to write home about, although I have heard his short films have won some awards, I didn’t walk away really that impressed by it. But I can say that between his directing and Miller and Naylon script, production is kept pretty tight. It gives room for the characters to change not only as roommates but as individuals. Yes like I said before there are some typical plot points but with the comedy and visuals coming in every direction it can be overlooked. Some people are going to walk away really liking this film and other are going to walk away saying it vulgar and demeaning, but “For a Good Time, Call…” isn’t pretending to be anything other than what it says it is, a raunchy comedy about two roommates running a phone sex line. But what you might walk away with is that even though it has the predictability to it, it’s charming in it’s own way, and while the story only brushes the surface with that charm, it’s the leads that really sell it, and it might even surprise you in some ways.
Like I just got done saying, it’s cast especially it’s two leads bring a lot of charm to the film. The film could have easily just gone for the gross out factor with all of the raunch, but because of that charm it brings a humanizing factor to not only the story but the characters’ as well. Like they do in the film, we get to know them and care about them, if the charm factor wasn’t there, this would have been a completely and probably worse off film. With most films of this kind there is of course a very small cast, but some of the fun to be had while watching is seeing all of the cameos that are made, you’ll get to see people like Seth Rogen (Lauren Miller’s husband in real life, she has also made cameos in some of his films), Kevin Smith and Ken Marino, all of whom deliver hilarious and very memorable scenes. Some of the other cast members that have limited screen time include Nia Vardalos who plays the boss of the company Lauren is trying to get a job at, Mimi Rogers and Don McManus who play Lauren’s parents that just happen to pick the wrong time to visit their daughter, some really funny scenes with them as well. Mark Webber, who’s character I don’t want to give away, because it takes away all of the fun, does a great job like the rest of the cast. While his situation is kind of weird and could be misconstrued as creepy in the real world but he delivers so much charm to the role that you actually forget how creepy it would be. As for Justin Long, he also delivers a very memorable performance, although he plays the typical and clichéd gay best friend of Lauren and Katie he makes the role fun, even more so when he is in scenes with the girls.
But it’s our two leads played by charming newcomer Lauren Miller in her first lead in a feature film and Ari Graynor the wonderful comedic veteran who seems to get overlooked. These two women not only do amazing jobs in their individual roles but also have wonderful chemistry together. At first their characters hatred towards each other fuels everything, but when they begin their business that rage changes into a more constructive kinship. While Lauren’s character seeks to become less boring and Ari’s character seeks to become I don’t know less wild, they end up helping change the other for the better and end up forming a real relationship with each other. Miller who I haven’t seen act much since this is her first lead role in a film (having only some bit parts in her husband’s (Seth Rogen) films), she does a really good job. She nails the whole boring, conservative life where everything practically since birth has been laid out into a plan for her. And although the change is subtle by the end you see a completely different side to her, one that was probably inside her the whole time just looking for a real reason to emerge.
Graynor on the other hand I have seen in many films because I am such a fan, although “For a Good Time, Call…” is a two person film, it’s Graynor’s film because she just ends up stealing every scenes she’s in. She pushes the boundaries of this raunchy comedy and give everything she has to make it as hilarious as possible. She was without a doubt perfect for this role, like Lauren’s character, Katie too needs some change in her life, there is no control or understanding. But while in the end we learn what kind of person she really is, the wild ride she takes us on till then is one that might make anyone blush. Her character is a lot like that of the one she played in “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”, wild and crazy, Graynor is also one of the best fake drunks I’ve ever seen, and just like in “For a Good Time, Call…” she steals every scene. While I hate that it took so long for her to reach this kind of scale of attention for her comedy, it’s a great role to have it happen with.
Overall “For a Good Time, Call…” continues to prove women can be just as wild in raunchy comedies as the men. While the story falls a little bit with some predictability to it’s storyline and ending, it’s the comedy that is the real selling point. Along with all of that it launches Lauren Miller as a person to take notice of and blasts Ari Graynor to comedic stardom. It might not be a film for everyone, but for those who are a fan of raunchy comedies, they will get a kick out of this.