Saturday, January 28, 2012

For A Good Time, Call...

For A Good Time, Call...
Director: Jamie Travis
Starring: Ari Graynor, Lauren Miller, Justin Long, James Wolk

For A Good Time, Call... has a great premise: two girls who hate each other have to move into a New York apartment together to stay afloat, and they eventually open a phone sex line to make money. It's compelling, vulgar, and heartwarming - a strange combination for a movie, but one that works very well here.

Lauren (Lauren Miller) is an uptight conservative chick who gets dumped by her mega-douche boyfriend (James Wolk), so she's stuck in New York with no place to live. Katie (Ari Graynor) is a free spirit, and one of her many jobs is a phone sex operator. In a flashback, we find that these two met on a fateful night in college that ended with spilled urine in a moving vehicle and one person stranded in a bad neighborhood. Needless to say, they aren't the best of friends. But their mutual friend, Jesse (Justin Long), sees the only solution to both their problems and hooks them up as roommates. When Lauren discovers Katie's means of extra income, she combines her business sense with Katie's, ahem, talents, and the two form a partnership that helps them overcome their checkered past.

Ari Graynor joins Elizabeth Olsen, Lizzy Caplan, and Mark Webber in the club of people with multiple films at this year's festival: she plays a lead in For A Good Time, Call... and a small "best friend" part in Celeste & Jesse Forever. (Webber also has a small part here.) This film gives her the meatier role and she delivers, hitting all the right notes in both the comedy and drama required. Sundance seems to be the place where people are dubbed "rising stars," and since I think she has true screen presence, I'll go ahead and attach that label to Graynor. Lauren Miller, who co-wrote this movie, doesn't quite light up the screen the way her co-star does, but she's got an undeniable charm and her fresh-faced innocence is a perfect fit for her character. Justin Long does an impression of his friend Vince Vaughn with a gay twist, which - for me anyway - was amusing and entertaining. And on a personal note, it was great to see James Wolk, star of the ill-fated TV series "Lone Star", working again since I was a big fan of the show.

The movie deals a lot with themes of friendship and stepping out of your personal boundaries, and there's a ton of comedy interspersed along the way. Most of it is extremely vulgar - after all, they do run a phone sex line, but there's a realism to the dialogue that makes it all feel sincere, and the characters are all so honest and genuine that it's easy to excuse nitpicks here and there. I don't want to ruin anything for you, but there are some really funny sequences featuring cameos by some very recognizable actors, so keep an eye out for those. I dug this movie, and since it just got picked up by Focus Features, this one should be easy to see in the coming months. It's not one of my favorites of the festival, but it's a nice little comedy that accomplishes all its goals, including the most important one - making the audience laugh.

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