Bridesmaids was the shot across the bow, with HBO’s Girls the follow-up fusillade: Women can cuss, drink and drug with the best of ’em. In that spirit arrives For a Good Time, Call …, a comedy with the scenario of what happens when a pair of unlikely 20-somethings start a phone-sex service.
If you bet that means a lot of one-liners about penises and vaginas, and maybe some sight gags involving zeppelin-sized dildos, I congratulate you on your clairvoyance. But there are surprises here, too, particularly how sweet-natured this film actually is, and how winning are its two stars.
Lauren (Lauren Anne Miller, 50/50), the straitlaced product of well-to-do parents, loses her job at a New York publishing company and is dumped by her callow boyfriend (James Wolk, TV’s Political Animals) because he finds her too boring.
Across town, brassy and vulgar Katie (Ari Graynor, The Sitter) is in danger of being booted from her late grandmother’s Gramercy Park apartment. Enter the women’s mutual pal, Jesse (Justin Long, Going the Distance), to hook them up as roommates.
There’s a hitch: Lauren and Katie have detested each other ever since a night at college 10 years earlier when a drunken Katie accidentally doused Lauren with a cup of urine. But rent money is rent money, and so the gals grudgingly endure requisite resentments over hair on the soap and no toilet paper on the roll.
When Lauren discovers that Katie has a part-time job doing phone sex, however, it gets the entrepreneurial wheels turning. The roomies start their own 1-900 service. Before long, their mutual hatred is thawing along with Lauren’s inhibitions.
Good Time illustrates something rare in movies: a genuine female friendship that isn’t defined by the women’s relationships with men. Even Bridesmaids felt it needed to toss Kristen Wiig a life preserver in the form of the Perfect Guy.
Here, the men folk — when they’re not jacking off in bathroom stalls or in cars — are peripheral to the real romance, or bra-mance, between Lauren and Katie.
And while the story often plays out like a fizzy, mid-’80s comedy you’ve happened across on cable, even down to an ultra-perky soundtrack, the film does hold a few character revelations up its sleeve.
Its ample heart compensates when the raunchiness falls short of Apatowian heights. Sex talk alone doesn’t hold much shock these days, despite some funny cameos by Seth Rogen (Miller’s real-life husband) and Kevin Smith, and feature-debuting director Jamie Travis doesn’t milk big laughs.
But the results are good enough.