For a Good Time, Call… (2012)

Directed by Jamie Travis
Written by Lauren Miller & Katie Ann Naylon

In a time where Judd Apatow & company have dominated the comedy landscape, the ladies are starting to make their impact and garner plenty of laughs themselves. With Bridemaids, Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy made their voices heard, and now it appears the raunchy female comedy is here to make its run. So what better place to continue than with a film co-written by Seth Rogen’s wife, Lauren Miller? Honestly, I had no idea he was married, or who Lauren Miller was, before this film. But after having seen For a Good Time, Call…, it makes perfect sense that these two would be together. I can only imagine being a fly on the wall during dinner at the Rogen-Miller household. It must be hilarious because Miller has such a great sense of humor that I’m amazed she hasn’t had a bigger break yet. And speaking of breaks, Ari Graynor. More on this later.

I can only assume that this is a semi-autobiographical film penned by Miller and her friend Katie Ann Naylon. Miller plays Lauren, am aspiring copyright who gets kicked out of her relationship, and apartment, with dickish boyfriend Charlie. Close friend Jesse (Justin Long) has the perfect solution, as he just so happens to have another friend in need of a roommate to make ends meet, Katie (Ari Graynor). The catch, and it is a catch, is that Lauren and Katie have a history, and it is not a pleasant one. But they are desperate, so they try it out anyway. The more proper Lauren soon learns that Katie is a phone sex operator by night and soon gets looped in due to her savvy business smarts. This could be just the edge she has been looking for to break from the boring and mundane, but when Charlie and a high profile job come calling for Lauren, she is forced to choose between her old boring life, and her new, unexpected friendship with Katie.

While it was great seeing the breakout of Lauren Miller, Ari Graynor is the real attraction here. I have seen her here and there the last few years (as Eva Destruction in Drew Barrymore’s Whip It for instance), but never in a starring role and I must say that she nails this part as the bitchy phone sex operator. The chemistry the two actresses display on screen is the lifeblood that makes the film breath and ultimately work as well as it does. In conjunction with these two is the smart writing, a trait that seems to make the good raunchy comedies rise above the filth contained within them. It may seem like an oxymoron, but while the film pushes the boundaries of what is said and shown in a comedy, it does so with the right amount of heart and tenderness to make the ridiculous not only relateable, but acceptable. There will be those who feel the film is too dirty, and that can’t really be helped, nor really argued against.

For this film, however, there are some aspects that were less effective than others. For instance, Justin Long’s role in the film is way too over the top. He plays the gay friend who connects these two ladies, and he does have his funny parts, but I couldn’t help but notice when he went too big with the character, bringing him down from a solid supporting character to a mere caricature instead. The raunchiness of the film can push the boundaries here and there too. A film like this is made to do that, but sometimes, instead of serving a purpose, the scenes seem to drag on too long, existing simply to shock or surprise. Luckily Miller and Graynor are always there to bring it back and push the story forward instead of the boundaries.

Overall the pros outweigh the cons for this film, making it a worthy entry into the world of female comedy, though it also shows the aspects that could get this genre into trouble. It is a very simple story, which is perfect for a comedy. The premise shouldn’t be complicated, but serve to allow a platform from which to deliver the laughs. From a technical perspective, the film is not going to attract many eyes, but that is a rare instance in the comedy world. Get in, set it up, deliver the laughs, get out. And that is exactly what director Jamie Travis does. No great flourishes. None needed. A film like this would crumble under grander ambitions, not to say it has low ambitions, but the story is simple enough to give us, the viewer, just what we might need: a night out for a laugh or two with some ladies, and maybe even just enough love and friendship to appease the dramatists in all of us.

**1/2 – Good

 

Adam Kuhn

Adam Kuhn was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where he attended Saint Charles Preparatory School. He studied History at the University of Cincinnati, where he was a contributor of The News Record, the twice-weekly, independent student news organization. He has been writing film reviews and blogging since 2009.

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