‘For A Good Time’, Don’t Call…
For A Good Time, Call…: 1 ½ out of 5
Katie: You go get your fancy pants boring job and I’ll just be here being exciting.
It’s a buddy comedy, a chick flick, and a story of phone sex operators; all rolled into one! Obviously there have to be plenty of people that found this movie funny. For a Good Time, Call… was picked up out of Sundance and quickly turned around for a release this year. I guess the idea is to cash in on women talking dirty, following the success that was had with 2011’s Bridesmaids, except that film had more up its sleeve than just crude dialogue. For a Good Time, Call… feels like an incredibly lazy sitcom that is stretched out to feature length and attempting to repeatedly cash in on just one joke. Hearing so many explicit things in the span of a few minutes or as a running gag is fine, but as the only thing a film has going for it, it just becomes tiring and bland.
The story starts off rather coldly, as a plain girl named Lauren (Lauren Miller, who co-wrote the screenplay) is broken up with by her dickish boyfriend (James Wolk), because he accuses them of being boring as a couple. At the same time, Katie (Ari Graynor, who co-produced the film) is living in a fancy New York apartment, but needs help in paying the rent. These two girls have a bad history together, due to a horrible situation that occurred ten years earlier. However, their mutual friend, Jesse (Justin Long), hooks the two of them up and convinces them to be roommates for at least the summer.
Lauren soon learns that one of Katie’s professional endeavors is working as a phone sex operator, which is distracting to listen to. Another problem for Lauren arises as she is let go from her job and forced to seek new employment. Due to various difficulties, she eventually speaks her mind about what Katie does and decides to become her business partner. This only leads to Lauren eventually spicing up her life and becoming the other operator for the business as well. Plenty of other phone sex hijinks ensue.
I saw this whole film in its trailer. Sometimes that is not necessarily a problem, if there are still fun things to get out of the experience, even after knowing where the story is going. The thing is, this movie is not really fun to see unfold, nor is it very funny. From a plot standpoint, there are no stakes here. Nothing in the form of consequence can come from what is presented in the story, aside from two girls getting mad at each other at some point. The small moments of conflict that do arise are not even addressed by the time the film ends. The argument could be made that this film is about friendship, similar to something like I Love You, Man, and the rest of the plot is inconsequential, but then I just have to fall back on how unfunny the film is overall.
Following the setup up, once we get to the phone sex stuff, the movie never rises above graphic descriptions of sexual situations and cuts to some of the guys reacting to it. I guess it could be funny just because of how foul all the dirty talk is and how absurd some of it can be, but it just becomes numbing after a while. I can say that one scene involving Seth Rogen on the other end of the line is fairly enjoyable, but it’s mainly because of the cameo from Rogen, who has nothing to do with the rest of the film, and not the characters we are supposed to be rooting for. It may also be worth noting that Justin Long is fine in this film, as his humorous interactions made me smile.
When it comes to Graynor and Miller, it is not that they are not particularly likable, they just do not really expand beyond being very simplistic characters working inside a very arbitrary story. Graynor may have more to do in terms of being the more exuberant of the two and given that she forms a relationship with one of her frequent callers (played sweetly by Mark Webber), but neither of them after have to deal with any real drama that makes the film compelling. It is literally all fun and games with an obligatory way to bring an ounce of conflict to the film’s third act, before wrapping up sweetly (and poorly, given the forgotten plot strands left lingering).
The worst kinds of movies, for me, tend to be comedies that just are not that funny. As opposed to other movies that can be so bad they become funny, unfunny comedies just mean I am going to be bored for an extended period of time. For a Good Time, Call… is not aggressively bad, it is just boring, given that the novelty wears off quickly and there is little to provide anything else that makes the story engaging or the girls more than just bubbly presences on screen. Of course, comedy is the most subjective genre to judge, but I was just waiting to hang up on this call.
Lauren: I don’t want to be boring anymore.