For a Good Time, Call…: Better by the Minute

by Rachel Stein August 31, 2012 10:00 am
<I>For a Good Time, Call…</i>: Better by the Minute

I did not like Bridesmaids -- but that might have been my own fault. I went into 2011's big summer hit comedy with extraordinarily high expectations that because it was a movie that starred funny women it wouldn't rely on female competition as a comedic vehicle for the entire duration of the film, nor would it be set on giving Kirsten Wiig a love interest to solidify her happiness... obviously, I was way off. I had a similar reaction after watching the Girls pilot (which I documented to great lengths); yes, it is a comedy series created by, written by and starring mostly young women, but damn it, why do they all have to be so miserable (not to mention grating)? I just wanted to have my brand of feminism's cake and eat it too, and that's where For a Good Time, Call... comes in.

I realize that based on the synopsis, the chances of this movie sounding great is unlikely: Two roommates (Ari Graynor and Lauren Miller) who are polar opposites start a sex hotline together. There is so much room for annoying roommate fights, lame pratfalls and glaring objectification. A film that leans so heavily on two lead actresses who haven't quite burst through the collectively adored bubble also runs the risk of no one going to see it, let alone connecting with the leads. Fortunately, For a Good Time stands on its own and may be the best buddy comedy of the year. (It's kind of awesome the title right now is between this and Ted, a movie about a guy and a stuffed animal, isn't it?)

Graynor (the drunk girl from Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist) and Miller (who is also the film's co-writer) have outstanding chemistry, so much so that what could have been a lame rom-com with weak actresses becomes a love story about two best friends. Sure, there are guys -- some of whom they fall for, some of whom they don't -- but the way these women find happiness is through female friendship and watching that journey is by far the most satisfying part of For a Good Time. What's better is that every part of their relationship is grounded in reality, so even though the film is about starting a phone sex business, these college-educated women are smart enough to register as a legitimate LLC and not get scammed by any customers, making me feel a whole lot better about women in power after a summer of watching MacKenzie ruin just about everything on The Newsroom. And best of all, to a person who still thinks it's exciting when a movie passes the Bechdel Test, Katie (Graynor) and Lauren (Miller) are in charge of and empowered by their own sexuality, and are by no means ashamed of the fact that they make their money are phone sex operators... they know it's ridiculous that they're running a phone sex line, after all, but they're as comfortable in their sexuality as they are in their cushy New York City apartment.

Assuming you're not as obsessed with feminism as me -- which is fair -- in its tight 80-minute screentime, For a Good Time is also packed with hilarious gross-out humor, none of which involves women defecating themselves, fortunately. Actually, in an excellent turn of events, some of the nastiest and most humiliating bits of the movie are at the expense of the cameos from a few extremely funny men. Seeing which beloved male comedians pop by the movie in the form of paying customers to the ladies' hotline is half of the fun, and I wouldn't want to spoil that for you.

Some credit should also go to Justin Long, as the guy friend who brings Katie and Lauren together in the first place. The first act of the movie requires a lot from his character, as he needs to sell the set-up of two former enemies living together, and he doesn't quite hit his marks. However, once the plot gets rolling and the women take the front seat, his role as a supporting character becomes significantly more enjoyable. And that should serve as a warning sign: Give this movie at least a half hour until you decide to call me crazy. It takes a bit to warm up to For a Good Time, but like all of the girls' clients, you'll get there.

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