There are two reasons why someone might not appreciate For A Good Time, Call... They’re feminists, or they don’t understand the idea of phone sex.

Phone sex is strange. How does one get turned on by someone moaning on the other end of the line? There’s no accompanied visual, there’s no physical partner and, even worse, no tangible action taken by the other person onto your body. I mean, what’s the deal here?  Have we really become so desperate as to not meet someone at a bar? Hire a prostitute? Heck, pornography would be more understandable than this.

That, however, is not encouragement to participate in the above activities, but just pointing out the questions the film obviously avoids answering.  Lauren Powell (Lauren Miller) is looking for an apartment in New York City after her boyfriend, Charlie, (James Wolk) tells her that their relationship is just too “boring,” and he is taking a job that requires him to move to Europe. Lauren talks with her close friend Jesse (Justin Long), and he encourages her to try out this apartment that he found downtown. She goes there, only to discover an unpleasant surprise: A woman named Katie (Ari Graynor) lives there, and if Lauren is to move in, she would have to be roommates with Katie.  

See, while these two were still in college 10 years ago, Katie accidentally spilled pee into Lauren’s hair when she drove her home from a party (don’t ask how that happened). Ten years later, Katie doesn’t forgive Lauren for kicking her out of her car, and Lauren doesn’t forgive Katie for getting urine in her hair. Nevertheless, the two girls have run out of options and are forced to room with each other until they can get their priorities straight.  

Turns out Katie is a phone sex operator — among other odd jobs — and is quite successful with her profession. Lauren, at first disgusted by the idea, refuses to become involved in Katie’s activities until she is laid off at her job. She then agrees to help Katie, so long as she gets a part of the profit, and the two end up becoming much closer and more personal than one would have predicted running a phone sex business.  

Here is a movie that is far better than it is supposed to be. The premise of two archenemies turned friends running a phone sex line sounded pretty awful at first. As I watched the movie, however, I realized the focus isn’t on the phone sex as much as it is on these two characters. The primary focus of this film is on this relationship, how they hate each other, then like each other and then hate each other again. Ultimately their relationship ends resolved in a sweet, chaste friendship. This is a film that greatly stresses the importance of friendship and female bonding, and for once, doesn’t show women as being stupid, needy, dependent little creatures. Unlike many other films, this movie isn’t cliche. It doesn’t show women in a negative light, and it doesn’t satirize them or make them overly-dramatic in any way whatsoever. It, in fact, shows them in a more believable light, making them real, flesh-and-blood human beings that have feelings, make mistakes, and at times, inevitably hurt each other. It shows the ultimate truth that love and affection conquers all. Those terms, by the way, don’t describe the relationship in a romantic way. These two women are like sisters, who in some ways can’t stand each other, but in other ways, can’t live without the other. Is that a contradictory statement? Probably, but it doesn’t make the film any less funny.  

This film, by the way, is based on a true story. The writers of this film, Lauren Miller and Katie Naylon, met each other while in college, and it was there where Lauren discovered Katie ran a phone sex line. I guess you could say the film is partially autobiographical, in the same way that 50/50 is to screenwriter Will Reiser. There is a sense of truth in For A Good Time, Call..., a sense of authenticity that, in some strange way, adds truth and realism to this somewhat outlandish idea. This makes the film believable, and again, added a good balance of humor and drama to the picture. The cast is strong, as well, with Miller and Graynor expressing a closeness and a chemistry that feels so genuine, we forget they are acting. Seth Rogan and Kevin Smith, also, make the funniest cameos I’ve seen in a comedy film in a long time. You’d have to see the film to understand why.  

In the end, For A Good Time Call... is a movie that, for me, has very mixed appeal. On one hand, it is very funny. It is impeccably performed and written, and has many deep themes of love and friendship.

The biggest weakness with For A Good Time Call... is the same weakness in any other R-rated comedy: It is raunchy. It is dirty. It is awkward. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. In its defense, though, the film will be well-received, and will greatly please its target audience. Everybody else should probably hang up.

@daviddunn20 

davidadunn@mavs.uta.edu

 

David Dunn is an aspiring filmmaker, critic, and analyst currently attending the University of Texas at Arlington, and writes for the newspaper, The Shorthorn.

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