For a Good Time, Call...
dir Jamie Travis
scr Lauren Anne Miller, Katie Anne Naylon
prd Josh Kesselman, Lauren Anne Miller, Katie Anne Naylon, Jen Weinbaum
with Lauren Anne Miller, Ari Graynor, Justin Long, Mark Webber, Nia Vardalos, Mimi Rogers, Don McManus, Sugar Lyn Beard, James Wolk, Lawrence Mandley, Steven Shaw, Seth Rogen
release US 31.Aug.12, UK 2.Nov.12
12/US Focus 1h25
For a Good Time, Call...
Hanging on the telephone: Miller and Graynor

long webber vardalos
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
For a Good Time, Call... This low-key comedy features a lot of graphic dialog about sex without anything actually going on. The screenwriters are using a rom-com structure to recount an unlikely friendship. And without being hugely funny or sexy, they still manage to charm us.

When the newly single Lauren (Miller) loses her job, her gay best friend Jesse (Long) finds her a place to stay with his pal Katie (Graynor). But Lauren and Katie are at odds over an incident 10 years earlier, and resent each other for being dull and oversexed, respectively. Then Lauren discovers that Katie could make more money if she opened her own phone-sex line, and the two go into business. Lauren tries to hide this from her parents (Rogers and McManus), while Katie begins to fall for a client (Webber).

Behind raunchy words this film has a remarkably gooey centre. But this isn't a Judd Apatow-style gross-out with a sentimental finish; it's a playful, understated movie that simmers but never boils over. So it feels like a rehearsal rather than a finished film, which perhaps reflects how it was shot in just two weeks. This also limits gifted director Travis (making his first feature) to witty colour splashes instead of his usual elaborate visual set-ups.

Miller and Graynor both play their scenes in a way that focusses on the growing bond between the characters as well as each woman's individual journey. Even with the light approach, there's a nice sense of the complexity of their relationship. We may be constantly sidetracked by silly moments of farce or starry cameos, but Travis never loses focus: the side players remains on the margins, adding a bit of colourful snap (Long), cute warmth (Webber) or sass (Vardalos) as required.

In other words, this is a very interesting film about a female friendship that just hasn't quite been developed to its full potential. The comedy could be a lot punchier, the sexuality lustier, the emotion earthier. It's perfectly enjoyable, but right from the start, the loose tone and overlit sets tell us that the film is never going to really grab us.

cert 18 themes, language, sexuality 29.Oct.12

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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall