Who would ever think that a movie about two girls starting a phone sex business together would be uncomfortable to watch? Ok, so no one is actually surprised by that. But what is surprising is that it isn’t actually awkward for the reasons you may think.
For starters, a problem for For A Good Time, Call… is that there is no longer a whole lot of shock value in this premise thanks to movies like Zack and Miri Make A Porno, which takes the sex industry story much further. It doesn’t seem as if it was ever the intention of this film to compete with that level of naughtiness, but that doesn’t keep it from still falling in it’s shadow, as it struggles tonally to transition from scenes in which they do take things as far as Zack and Miri (Kevin Smith’s cameo being the prime example) to the lighter, heart-filled moments that the previous film managed to include gracefully. The cameo from Seth Rogen sure didn’t help mute the comparison (he steals the film with one line, just FYI).
Yet even without these perverse jokes going as far as they could in every and all situations, the girls’ interactions with their clients still feel really juvenile, as if we are supposed to laugh every time they talk about everything they say they’re doing to the male genitalia in a painfully scripted manner, especially during the montage of turning good girl Lauren into a scandalous, dirty-mouthed woman. They just seemed so bored here, and even when Lauren Miller and Ari Graynor seem to be into their roles everything still manages to fall flat (though I will say that Graynor does provide a pretty solid performance away from the telephone business).
“Juvenile” moves on to describing the whole film when the relationship between Lauren and Katie starts playing out. What starts as petty fighting between two annoying girls over a pee-filled grudge eventually becomes this relationship toeing the line of a “romantic” summer camp experience. This is another element of the film that ranges from love it or hate it, and unfortunately I couldn’t really back this as much as I had hoped I could (though the pay off does make up for some of the earlier attempts to create this comparison to a “romantic” relationship).
In the end For A Good Time, Call… fails to impress in its attempts to force female comradery down our throats, which is upsetting considering how much I love cheering for Graynor ever since her huge breakout performance in Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist. It just can’t overcome awkward tonal shifts and unnecessary elements that bog the fun these two girls could have been sharing with us down.
Final grade: D+