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For a Good Time, Call: Comedy talks dirty but doesn’t go all the way

(L-R) Ari Graynor stars as Katie, Justin Long stars as Jesse and Lauren Miller stars as Lauren in Jamie Travis' For A Good Time, Call...,

Travis Topa

2 out of 4 stars

Title
For A Good Time, Call...
Directed by
Jamie Travis
Starring
Lauren Miller, Katie Anne Naylon
Classification
18A
Country
USA
Language
English
Year
2012

Casual sex for fun and profit is no longer just a guy thing. With For a Good Time, Call ..., phone sex takes its stirringly inspirational place as something that can not only make a girl rich, it can bring her closer to other girls as well. Especially if they're partners in the same business. If this doesn't strike you as progress, hang up now.

Easily the daffiest movie you've ever seen that also references incestuous role-playing games, the Toronto-based filmmaker Jamie Travis's movie posits the post-recessionary what's-a-girl-gonna-do question as a setup for a movie that's a sitcom in everything but episodic length, laugh track and ads for contraceptive products. Besides that, it looks bright 'n' shiny like a sitcom, takes place almost exclusively in an apartment like a sitcom, has a bitchier-than-thou gay best buddy just like a sitcom, and boasts almost the same degree of intellectual heft, moral nuance and philosophical rigour as a sitcom.

Here's our springboard to profundity: After Lauren (Lauren Miller) is dumped by her vapid financial-sector boyfriend (James Wolk) in favour of a sunny new gig in Tuscany, she's hooked up with the eviction-noticed Courtney Love-like vulgarian Katie (Ari Graynor) as a potential roomie by their mutual gay buddy Jesse (Justin Long). Years before this arrangement, there was a nasty incident involving the two women, a cup of urine, and a moving car, so the girls are understandably wary.

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But they work it out, as no one who has ever opened their eyes in the morning and yawned will be surprised to learn. The means of détente is Katie's part-time profession as a phone-sex small contractor, an activity the initially shocked Lauren turns into a sexy-time bonanza when she convinces Katie to go independent and start their own X-rated 1-800 line.

After initial complications of the learning-to-talk-dirty variety – forget your hangups, girl: it's fun ! – business pops like a button-fly front at a pole-dancing demo. Naturally, there are those around – like Lauren's parents (Mimi Rogers and Don McManus) – who are chagrined to find the girls' apartment decorated in multicoloured thongs, variably-sized dildos and other such professional precision tools, but eventually all resistance goes limp in the face of such an obviously profitable and downright uplifting display of home-made entrepreneurialism.

Darned if Katie doesn't even hook up with a client (Mark Webber) who's really a closet sweetie – and would be perfect if only he knew she's really, like, a virgin and double-darned if Lauren doesn't muster up the Cosmo-worthy self-esteem to tell her dinky ex to blow back to Tuscany when he comes inevitably crawling back.

Naturally, all this is wonderful and humbling, if not something you wish every cash-strapped young woman from here to Kazakhstan could see simply to take hope and inspiration from. However, you've got to wonder at all that strangely unresolved homoerotic tension at work, especially since the women do seem to fall genuinely in love with each other – and tell each other so, with tears in their eyes – and all sex with members of the other gender is so fraught with icky-creepy sex talk and only even possible due to the gift granted humanity by the great Alexander Graham Bell. But I guess that would be too much to bear. It's one thing to say that talking dirty for money makes you happy and rich, quite another to say it makes you want to hang up on boys entirely.

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