By Chaz Lipp
Sometimes an awkward title is enough to sink a movie. It’s not as if For a Good Time, Call … isn’t appropriate for a movie about a pair of friends who start a phone sex business. But that doesn’t alter the fact that it’s a bland title with too much punctuation. The movie itself, which landed unceremoniously in a few dozen theaters late in the summer of 2012, is a rather charming comedy with spirited performances by leading ladies Ari Graynor and Lauren Miller plus a handful of funny cameos. So forget the cruddy title and rent it if you’re in the mood for a bawdy comedy.
Katie (Graynor) and Lauren (Miller) are sworn enemies based on a urine-related accident that happened ten years ago when both ladies were in college. Katie’s rent has increased beyond her budget and Lauren just got dumped by her supremely self-absorbed boyfriend Charlie (James Wolk), leaving her basically homeless. Their mutual friend Jesse (Justin Long) suggests they become roomies to cancel out each other’s problems. Although their clashing personalities initially cause tension, things change when Lauren discovers that Katie works as a phone sex operator.
When Lauren loses her job, she proposes a way for Katie to earn more than the dollar-per-minute cut the phone sex company is paying her: start their own business. Before long, 1-900-Mmm-Hmm is up and running. Soon the new business partners are rolling in dough. And that’s kind of where the plot development ends. Once the premise is established, For a Good Time, Call … just sort of coasts on the strength of its cast without introducing enough serious obstacles to keep things interesting.
Lauren Miller wrote the screenplay with Katie Anne Naylon. They based it on their own experiences as college roommates. The world has largely moved beyond the rather quaint concept of phone sex in favor of things like video chatting on Skype (not that I speak from experience, of course). These days it seems that every few years there’s a new wave of adult entertainment that ups the ante on virtual intimacy. So the contemporary setting makes the film feel a little dated. That’s more of an observation than a criticism. Miller and Graynor make a good odd couple and Long steals quite a few scenes along the way. Kevin Smith and Seth Rogan (Miller’s real-life husband) pop in for funny, raunchy cameos as 1-900-Mmm-Hmm customers.
The Blu-ray offers a nicely detailed, 1080p transfer that presents the digital cinematography with suitable clarity. For a Good Time, Call … was shot using Arri Alexa cameras and it looks as good as any lower budget, recent digital production. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is unspectacular but works perfectly fine for a talky comedy. What did catch my ear were the pop tunes on the soundtrack that fill out the surround spectrum very well. The LFE channel is generally untaxed but really kicks in for the songs.
The Blu-ray offers an unrated cut as well as the theatrical. I’m not sure what the difference is because I went straight to the unrated, which runs about two minutes longer. As for supplements, the main one is a conversational commentary track with director Jamie Travis, co-writers and producers Lauren Miller and Katie Anne Naylon, and co-star Ari Graynor. A handful of deleted scenes and a promotional featurette are included as well. The Blu-ray package comes fully equipped with standard DVD, Digital Copy, and UltraViolet.
For a Good Time, Call … is amiable fun that works as well as it does based on the appeal of its good-natured, amusingly foul-mouthed cast. It’s a paper thin, but to its credit I don’t think it was ever intended to be anything else.
(Photos: Focus Features)