Raunchy, unfunny, not a good time
I Love You, Man - or was it Wedding Crashers? - introduced filmgoers to the bromance, the movie about nonsexual brotherly love.
Bridesmaids - or was it Bride Wars? - introduced them to what Wesley Morris nicely dubs the bra-mance, the movie about nonsexual sisterly affection.
For a Good Time, Call . . . is one in the subsequent crush of girlcrush entertainment that includes Girls, 2 Broke Girls, and Bachelorette (the last of which also opens today). The main distinction of this particular raunchfest, about the economic opportunities available to women in the phone-sex industry, is that it does not reconcile its slim narrative conflict with a big, fat wedding.
The film (a) is not recommended for the prudish and (b) does not live up to its title. It promises the kind of naughty fun scrawled via Sharpie in toilet stalls of bars that have seen better clientele. It delivers a few laughs, many cringes, and the kind of sex talk one might hear in the adjacent toilet stalls of bars that have seen hotter clientele.
The film - directed, garishly, by Jamie Travis and written by Lauren Miller and Katie Anne Naylon - concerns young Manhattanites named Lauren and Katie. Lauren (Miller herself) is a cold-fish publishing professional who loses her boyfriend, her job, and her apartment in the film's early sequences.
Katie (Ari Graynor, a buxom Sandra Bullock) is a hot mess facing eviction from the rent-controlled apartment she inherited from her grandmother. She toils at many part-time jobs, including one as a phone-sex worker.
There you have the setup: the nice girl and the naughty one, both flailing, each needing the other to get her life into bra-mantic balance. Such gals are more likely to run from each other than run in the same circles, right?
What Lauren and Katie have in common is a gay best friend (Justin Long, drolly sending up the conventions of the archetype) who wants to move Lauren off his couch into Katie's spare room and succeeds.
What ensues is a friendship comedy that strictly follows the beats and stops of a romantic comedy. Once they get over their mutual revulsion, Lauren will organize Katie, Katie will liberate Lauren, and both will pleasure their phone johns (Kevin Smith, Mark Webber, and Seth Rogen - the last being Miller's real-life husband).
It's not much of a movie, but I'm always happy to see the bawdy Graynor, who possesses the elastic face of Bullock on top of the pneumatic form of Mae West. Since first I noticed Graynor in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, she has perfected the part of the gal determined to win the how-low-can-you-go contest. In this unexceptional comedy, she is most winning.