Starring: Ari Graynor, Lauren Miller, Justin Long
Lauren Miller writes for and stars in For A Good Time, Call…, a film that initially comes off as another dime-a-dozen chick flick in which two polar opposites are forced to make do with one another. Despite this first impression, For A Good Time is not as bad as some of the other films in the genre. It most certainly has its flaws, but as a whole the movie is a good pick for any “girls’ night in” situation.
Uptight Manhattan resident Lauren Powell (Miller) has just been dumped by her boyfriend of two years. Stricken with grief and unable to afford an apartment in the city by herself, Lauren enlists the help of her gay best friend, Jesse (Long). Taking advantage of the fact that she is desperate, Jesse shacks her up with her nemesis from college: the vivacious and promiscuous Katie Steele (Graynor). The girls initially clash head-to-head, until Lauren learns that Katie is a phone sex operator making less than she should and persuades Katie to start her own phone sex line. Shortly after Katie gets her line going, Lauren is laid off from her job and forced to loosen up and join Katie’s operation.
Ari Graynor is the pinnacle of this film. She is able to bring out the contradictions that Katie is made up of – she’s both confident and insecure, she’s ordinary but still a sex symbol, and also just hilarious. The other roles in the film are much less interesting. The most I can say for Lauren Miller’s character is that her voice is whiny and annoying, and it’s not clear whether this is intentional on Miller’s part. If it is, I strongly disagree with the decision – I was amazed by how much the voice turned me off from her character. I was also disappointed with Justin Long’s performance; he makes his character a boring stereotype by playing Jesse as an over-the-top flamboyant gay guy. It’s evident that his character is supposed to be a comedic facet in the film, but his jokes certainly would have landed better had he been more subtle in his portrayal.
The film’s screenplay is mediocre, but not too awful, considering that this is the first film Lauren Miller has written for. Still, she doesn’t help herself by choosing such an overused theme (it’s almost impossible to tally the number of films that cover apples and oranges learning to deal with one another). What saves the film is the addition of the phone sex line aspect, which definitely puts an interesting spin on things. But alas, in the end the storyline ends up being entirely too predictable – the film could have gone in so many different directions, but Miller chooses the most obvious path. While the beginning of the film is fresh and quirky, the climax has no momentum and becomes a bit of a drag.
The difficult thing about reviewing a movie like For A Good Time is that such a film is not meant for critical examination; it’s just a movie that wants to be fun. Ultimately, this goal is achieved: Travis creates an amusing film that isn’t too painfully unrealistic. Although it’s nothing special, it’s still nothing to turn up your nose at.