The telephone is the key prop in a number of movies from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Dial M for Murder” to “Phone Booth” and “Pillow Talk,” where Doris Day and Rock Hudson share a party line. Now comes “For a Good Time, Call …” This new film may kill off the telephone movie for good.
“For a Good Time, Call …” is a comedy about a pair of female New York roommates who go into the phone-sex business. If your idea of a good time is watching two actresses talk smutty into a pink telephone for much of the seemingly endless 85 minutes, go ahead and dial.
The film, written by Lauren Anne Miller, who plays one of the protagonists, and Katie Anne Naylon, who did briefly work in the phone-sex business, aspires to mimic the R-rated “bromances” pioneered by Judd Apartow and earlier the Farrelly Brothers.
(Of course, “Bridesmaids” beat this film to the punch as far as the female perspective is concerned.)
At best, “For a Good Time, Call …” is a light comedy more in the Doris Day/virginal tradition than it’s willing to acknowledge. These roommates are always good girls — with potty mouths to be sure but they have clean minds and pure souls.
Drawn in broad strokes, Miller’s Lauren is a privileged, well-behaved young career girl shocked at the more sexually raucous and foul-mouthed Katie (Ari Graynor). Initially odd-couple roommates, the two bond over their phone-sex gig and became great pals.
That’s pretty much it as far as the self-realization plot goes. Oh, sure, Lauren’s parents drop in at awkward moments and Katie finds herself falling for one of her regular customers (Mark Webber).
Lauren’s boyfriend (James Wolk) is conveniently absent for virtually the entire picture, but then the female writers make certain you realize he’s not for her anyway.
There is one twist toward the end about Katie that makes her almost interesting. It comes a little too late to stimulate the picture, however.
Since the scene seldom shifts from the women’s impossibly spacious Gramercy Park apartment, director Jamie Travis is stuck with a static, gabby film that never goes anywhere.
So he’s reduced to acting as traffic cop. And for all the sex talk, this is the least sexy film playing in cinemas today.
Naturally, the girls’ best male friend is gay. (Aren’t they always in fluff movies?) Still Justin Long has the only funny line where he’s on the phone — without which there would be no movie — holding a beloved dog and realizes he’s stroking the animal “like a James Bond villain.”
Audiences may spark to brief cameos by Kevin Smith and Seth Rogen (Miller’s husband) as guys on the other end of the line.
A word about Ari Graynor. After memorable supporting roles in “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist” and “Celeste & Jesses Forever” among other films, Graynor (who also exec produces) at last gets a starring role here.
She is quite good — funny, vivacious and smart as she can be given the shallowness of the character. If this movie does anything, one can only hope that it promotes Graynor into leading lady roles. She is most deserving.
Opens: August 31, 2012 (Focus Features)
Production Companies: AdScott Pictures in association with Anne in the Middle, Principal Entertainment and Nasser Entertainment Group
Cast: Ari Graynor, Lauren Anne Miller, James Wolk, Nia Vardalos, Mimi Rogers, Mark Webber, Justin Long
Director: Jamie Travis
Screenwriters: Lauren Anne Miller, Katie Anne Naylon
Producers: Lauren Anne Miller, Katie Anne Naylon, Josh Kesselman, Jenny Hinkey, Jen Weinbaum
Executive producers: Daniel M. Miller, Ari Graynor, Joe Nasser, Jack Nasser
Director of photography: James Laxton
Production designer: Sue Tebbutt
Music: John Swihart
Costume designer: Maya Lieberman
Editor: Evan Henke
R rating, 85 minutes