For a Good Time, Call… (Focus Features, R)

forgoodtime 75If you won’t get in line for a film about making friends and talking dirty, what will you go see?

 

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Times are hard for quasi-fashionable New Yorkers. Lauren (Lauren Anne Miller) has a good thing going until she gets fired and her boyfriend decides to move to Italy—without her. Meanwhile, Katie (Ari Graynor) is living the good life when the mansion-sized apartment her grandmother left her is de-rent controlled. The former college foes are now respectively in need of a living space and someone to share it with, and their mutual friend Jesse (Justin Long) convinces them to give living together a try.

As you can likely guess, their odd-couple-style situation doesn’t go well at first. Katie is the kind of woman who pees into cups while riding in moving cars, while Lauren would rather pretend such a personal relief possibility doesn’t even exist. But, when Lauren begins to drain her savings for living expenses and realizes there is money to be made managing a phone sex line, she and Katie embark on a business venture that turns their relationship into something they never dreamed.

For a Good Time, Call… is a welcome addition to the chick-flick genre, mostly because it’s nothing like your typical chick flick. There are no daffy but somehow business-savvy women who can’t land a man. No boorish men who (metaphorically) bend tough, stubborn women over their knees to tame them. And, thankfully, there are no women who put their lives on hold, hoping to find the right guy, get married, and then have the life of their dreams.

Carrying on in the tradition of Bridesmaids, For a Good Time, Call… is a crude, honest, bawdy, and heartfelt look at friendship. Like so many non-familial relationships, Lauren and Katie begin to bond because of their differences. That might not be surprising, but it is nice to see a real friendship between women develop. They realize pretty quickly that each has experience to be learned from, and appreciate the other on that level. No one goes Single White Female or gets more jealous than their newbie alliance can handle.

Miller and Graynor are perfectly suited for their roles, which isn’t much of a shock, since Miller helped write the screenplay. Graynor looks and sounds a lot like a young Bette Midler. Her Katie is all brash, party-girl bravado, but you can always see the seeds of something deeper hiding underneath. Miller does a fine job of making sure Lauren is serious, but never boring. You can tell from the beginning that if something doesn’t shake up her well-planned life, she’ll never stop to see if she’s really doing what makes her happy.

I hope For a Good Time, Call… manages to lure guys to theaters in spite of the lack of action scenes or rippling male muscles. Because, really, if you won’t get in line for a film about making friends and talking dirty, what will you go see? | Adrienne Jones

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