When movies aren't relying on the crutches of books and previously made flicks for inspiration, standard plot templates are often the fallback. To be fair, it's hard to come up with an original idea, but it can be even harder to make an original movie out of an unoriginal set-up.
So, I was pleasantly surprised when "For a Good Time, Call..." took a typical "female odd couple" scenario and turned it into a zany, crude comedy that easily transcends its tired jumping-off point.
That's something important to keep in mind, since "For a Good Time" does spend its first 20 minutes or so slogging through the necessary evils of its exposition. Straight-laced Lauren (writer/producer Lauren Miller) finds herself out of a relationship and an apartment when her boyfriend decides to "take a break" and haul off to Italy for work. Quirky Katie (Ari Graynor, also an executive producer) is about to lose her own apartment due to lack of funds and rent hikes. The pair ends up begrudgingly reconnecting through their mutual friend Jesse (Justin Long) and Lauren moves in.
Things thankfully pick up (pun not intended) after Lauren and Katie settle in. The audience is treated to a little of the obligatory mismatched-roommate hatred (She used all the toilet paper! Her hair's all over the soap! That b*tch!) before Lauren catches Katie in the midst of her side job: working for a phone sex line. Spurred by her ex's declaration that she's boring (and the unceremonious loss of her job), Lauren suggests the two go independent and start a line of their own.
1-900-MMM-HMMM takes off almost instantly, and the laughs follow suit. Up until this point they were minimal and not really noteworthy, and Lauren and Katie were more characters than people. From here, though, "For a Good Time" takes a much-needed turn as Miller and Graynor both get ample opportunity to wax perverted and show off their brazenly funny comedy skills. The audience is also treated (or subjected, depending on your perspective) to what's going on on the other end of the line, courtesy of a few disgustingly funny cameos. Combined with the enterprising duo's offbeat bonding sessions and their quest to ramp up their business (and respective personal lives), things get legitimately entertaining.
The frankness might be off-putting for some viewers, but it doesn't feel over-the-top or only done for shock value. And that's saying something, since I spent the whole beginning annoyed with how much time they spent hyperbolizing Katie into a zany caricature and Lauren into her drab polar opposite. Once they normal-ed out and the script focused its attention on the plot, though, "For a Good Time" stopped being a self-congratulatory "Girls can be funny, too!" pet project and started being an actual funny movie. It's not perfect, but it didn't embarrass itself – which says a lot for a movie about getting it on over the phone.
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