Has the bar of crudeness in a comedy been raised after the release of Jamie Travis' For a Good Time, Call...? Possibly. After all, only recently have we been seeing that women can be just as explicit if not more-so than their male counterparts. I heard some fun reactions from people who either saw the trailer or the actual film at hand here and a few stated they were appalled at the way the humor was conducted. Let me put it this way; after hearing men reiterate the passion they have for the size of their private parts and their ability to pick up and have sex with any women, it was somewhat pleasantly different and original to hear women converse about vibrators, phone sex, and different slang terms such as "phanal" ("phone anal" for the literate).
To put it simply, this is a very funny and surprisingly warm movie with a contagiously raunchy side. It's no different than one of the modern-day works of Judd Apatow, where characters can be crude and brazenly filthy, yet open up later in the film and reveal their deeper, more intimate side. It just so happens that we are given two female protagonists here that carry a lion's weight of the film effortlessly and poetically; the last things I was expecting to say about a film centering around two acquaintances drumming up an outdated phone sex business.
Lauren Powell (Lauren Miller) was the smart-girl in school who always seemed destined for greatness and who was always seemingly benefited from mommy and daddy's money. Katie Steel (Ari Graynor) was the narcissistic popular one who seemed benefited from absolutely nothing. One night in college, Lauren was forced by her best friend Jesse (Justin Long, in quite possibly the most brashly gay role this year) to drive Katie home and after, let's say, a poor circumstance, Katie was left in the middle of nowhere.
Fast-forward a few years later, when Lauren is down and out after being dumped by her boyfriend and Katie's apartment is about to be sold to another client if she can not pay rent. Jesse cunningly arranges for Lauren and Katie to spend the summer sharing Katie's apartment together and reluctantly, with much contention in the air, they do. When it is learned that Katie runs a phone sex business in her home, Lauren, at first appalled, realizes that there is a boatload of money to be made in the business and decides to become Katie's business partner when the job she wants falls through. Several filthy calls and credit cards later, Lauren wants to have her own line at the newly made 1-900-MMM-HMMM, because she feels she has gone too far in her boring, good-girl life.
The movie realistically portrays how girls carry out their contention between one another when forcefully paired together. Not so much through cat-fights, but through smarmy little remarks back and forth, and how one tends to be more ladylike and human than the other one. Then it shows their slow, awkward, and shaky progress towards friendship before they are blossoming with joy from being around each other.
It's that and the idea that the film doesn't overcompensate on the infinite number of dirty things these women can say to their customers or vice-versa, but also explores them as characters with emotions, personality, and feelings. Of course amidst all that, we get fun cameos from Kevin Smith, a taxi-cab driver, and Seth Rogen, an airplane pilot, both horny and looking for a good time on the phone.
For a Good Time, Call... is like the best comedy to ever deal with phone sex and will be for many, many years to come. Sure at times the film has a difficult time escaping its own dirty nature, yet it zips along with its bubbly energy and largely is elevated by its tremendously talented, spunky leads. Ari Graynor is terrifically energetic here, as is Lauren Miller, but the performance that did it for me was Justin Long's passionately convincing, if over the top, gay character who continues to check up on his friends even long after they've committed to a solid, likable relationship. And if anything, this film is definitely one of the year's brightest and funniest comedies. It's sweet, memorable, and effervescently fun; pretty much all of the things phone sex isn't.
Starring: Ari Graynor, Lauren Miller, Justin Long, Seth Rogen, and Kevin Smith. Directed by: Jamie Travis.