At college Lauren (Lauren Miller) and Katie (Ari Graynor) were the worst of enemies. Some years later, the pair become reluctant flatmates at the behest of their mutual friend Jesse (Justin Long). Dumped by a selfish boyfriend and jobless after blowing an interview at her dream job, Lauren is shocked to discover Katie works as a sex line operator. Initially aghast, Lauren grows increasingly intrigued and the girls decide to start their own phone sex business. At first Katie handles the calls while Lauren runs the switchboard. But Lauren gradually hones her own sexy patter. Delving fearlessly into a world of heavy breathers, fake orgasms and masturbatory aids, Katie and Lauren build a solid friendship that is eventually put to the test.
Sex as empowerment is a concept some feminists find contentious, notably the idea that Bond girls constitute an ideal of the liberated woman by virtue of their uninhibited, unrepentant sensuality. However, For a Good Time, Call... proves quite persuasive while depicting Lauren’s growing confidence bringing phone-in clients to orgasm with words alone and how that affects her attitude toward work, relationships and what the less open-minded would likely call normal, everyday life. In the wake of Bridesmaids (2011), Hollywood now knows women can make comedies as raunchy and outrageous as those done by men. Picking up the baton from Kristen Wiig, actress, co-producer and co-screenwriter Lauren Miller crafts an amiable romp as lewd and crude as one would expect from the subject matter, yet it packs a disarmingly sweet centre.
It is really two movies in one: an in-your-face sex farce and an odd couple relationship study. Truth be told, for all its sexual frankness and scatological humour, the film stands at its most engaging as the latter, the girl equivalent of a “bromance.” Gir-mance? Gro-mance? Lipstick lesbianism? Nah, never mind. Based on Miller’s real experiences in college sharing a flat with co-writer Katie Anne Naylon, some of the gags are at sitcom level as when Lauren’s parents drop in unexpectedly while Katie is simulating orgasm over the phone. Get past the frank dialogue and dildo gags and the film emerges wholly heartfelt in its devotion to old fashioned romance and celebrating the central friendship. Katie and Lauren prove far more complex than their deceptive character archetypes suggest. While the film includes an endearing sub-plot wherein a phone sex regular blossoms into a lasting relationship, the emotional core resides with this central dynamic. In one genuinely sweet scene the girls’ faux lesbian dirty talk session turns into a mutual love fest, much to the caller’s dismay, and the finale hilariously inverts their stock sex patter into a reaffirmation of friendship.
Shot in just sixteen days with vibrant photography by D.P. James Laxton, the film is stocked with celebrity sex caller cameos including Kevin Smith in a scene with an hilarious punchline, Ken Marino, Miller’s Superbad co-star Martha MacIsaac as a frustrated inmate at a women’s prison, and her significant other Seth Rogen as a commercial airline pilot jerking off in the washroom before take-off! Off the phones, Nia Vardalos - another actress who scripted her own breakout comic vehicle in My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) - appears as Lauren’s prospective boss and Justin Long is remarkably effective in the role of gay b.f.f. without straying into caricature. Also worth noting, Sugar Lynn Beard makes a scene-stealing appearance as a Katie and Lauren’s squeaky-voiced protégé who, in one of the best gags, turns out to be an “undercover Christian.”