Girls just wanna have phone fun?
Updated: August 31, 2012 9:32AM
‘For a Good Time Call’
There’s one nice thing for certain about the success of last year’s raunch-empowered “Bridesmaid” — its boffo box office has cleared the way for no-holds-barred woman-centric comedies in theaters and on TV.
Though it remains to be seen whether female performers, writers and producers will find a way to use this opportunity to create films by women/for women to honestly reflect the feminine point of view — as opposed to merely emulating the current strain of rude-crude comedies made by guys/for guys. Especially those that go low to meet current marketplace expectations instead of addressing real issues between people without all the old, artificially imposed constraints that lingered, like a bad hangover, from the self-censoring Motion Picture Production Code of 1930.
“For a Good Time Call” seems to be trying to have it both ways, though its hard-core raunchiness and its ideas about love and friendship from the woman’s point of view come across as equally formulaic. It works reasonably well, though, within limits, because of the chemistry between its female leads.
Lauren and Katie (Lauren Powell and Ari Graynor) are old college best-enemies-forever, who haven’t seen each other since that fateful evening in which Lauren ejected Katie from her car in a scary neighborhood after an unfortunate incident in which drunken Katie’s attempt to relieve herself in a fast-food drink cup went disastrously awry. Now in their 20s in New York, they are brought together again when organized and somewhat dull Lauren is given the heave-ho by her obnoxious boyfriend and free-spirited, artistic, yet clueless Katie learns she’s about to be evicted from her grandmother’s fabulous (but no-longer-rent-controlled) apartment — and mutual best gay-guy-friend Jesse (Justin Long) sees only one way to keep them both off the street.
There’s plenty of polite hatred when Katie and Lauren finally move in togethee — especially when Lauren realizes that one of Katie’s many part-time jobs involves delivering dollar-a-minute phone-sex to an exploitive company that keeps four dollars for itself. But when Lauren loses her job and her dream job at a top publisher seems to evaporate, she proposes launching an indie phone-sex service with herself as manager and Katie as star — and that, as Bogart says in “Casablanca,” is the start of a beautiful friendship.
“For a Good Time Call” pretty much evenly divides its time from that point between Katie’s skeevy on-the-phone antics and increasingly accelerated bonding between the new gal pals, involving much squealing, buying of gifts, fake-orgasm tutorials, mutual admiration of undies and the ever-growing sense that the two former enemies are falling in love. Especially after Lauren signs on as another phone-sex provider, after learning that the business has bagged $12,000 in three weeks.
Admittedly, I’m 25-years-too old and gender-disqualified, perhaps, but I found most of the comedy in “For a Good Time Call” — especially the occasional interludes involving special-guest celebrity callers such as Seth Rogen perving on the other end of the line — more embarrassing than funny. And my marginal interest in what seemed to be the unlikely love story between previously straight Katie and Lauren given the flip-flop treatment near the finale, with potential boyfriends always on the horizon, and never really resolved the question one way or another. Will they be lovers, or merely lesbi-gal-pals forever?
In the end, it’s hard to care either way.