PARK CITY — A feel-good raunch-com whose dirty-talk plot comes from a convincingly female perspective instead of feeling like cut-and-paste Apatow, For a Good Time, Call… does ably follow the Apatow ratio of sweet to salty, and keeps the audience laughing consistently. Commercial prospects are strong and, after Bridesmaids, buyers should be especially eager for this kind of laffer.
After being a reliable bright spot in many supporting parts (she’s also in fest entry Celeste and Jesse Forever), Ari Graynor starts this lead role with a wiggle (she’s ordering Chinese takeout while doing stripper-pole exercises) and remains physically animated throughout as Katie, a Manhattanite whose many bills-paying jobs include a gig answering phone-sex calls. Lauren (Lauren Anne Miller), her straight-laced, privileged new roommate, moves in reluctantly after being dumped by a boyfriend.
Director Jamie Travis paints the characters in broad strokes — slutty Katie in ’70s loungewear, Lauren wide-eyed in sad disbelief at the curve-balls life is throwing her, and their mutual gay pal Jesse (Justin Long) an overcaffeinated real estate matchmaker. The near-caricatures work well for a light, brisk pic whose real-world origins (Katie Anne Naylon, who co-wrote the film with Miller, was once a phone-sex operator) don’t mean it’s much concerned with realism.
When Lauren loses her job, she agrees to help Katie start her own phone-sex biz, provided she can stick to managerial tasks. The venture’s quick success means plenty of chances for viewers to overhear comically one-sided calls, with heavy moans and creative vulgarity quickly turning to businesslike sign-offs after the moment of truth has come. (Occasionally we see the other side of the call as well, with very funny cameos from Kevin Smith and Miller’s husband Seth Rogen.) Katie and Lauren grow close and, inevitably, the latter soon loosens up enough to start wielding a hot-pink love phone of her own.
Miller and Naylon’s script stretches pretty far to create a crisis between these two new BFFs, with a casual betrayal of porn-star proportions. It also throws a hurdle between Katie and her new love interest that few who stop to think about it will believe. But this 86-minute whirl doesn’t let viewers do much stopping to think, and before the bad mood sets in the screenwriters resolve things with a sequence so ludicrously stuffed with dumb double-entendres it’s hard not to grin.
Venue: Sundance Film Festival, Premieres
Production Company: AdScott Pictures
Cast: Ari Graynor, Lauren Anne Miller, James Wolk, Nia Vardalos, Mimi Rogers, Mark Webber, Justin Long
Director: Jamie Travis
Screenwriters: Lauren Anne Miller, Katie Anne Naylon
Producers: Lauren Anne Miller, Katie Anne Naylon, Josh Kesselman, Jenny Hinkey, Jen Weinbaum
Executive producers: Daniel M. Miller, Ari Graynor
Director of photography: James Laxton
Production designer: Sue Tebbutt
Music: John Swihart
Costume designer: Maya Lieberman
Editor: Evan Henke
Sales: John Sloss, Cinetic
No rating, 86 minutes