Just wipe down the receiver when you’re finished

19 09 2012

By Kleinz 57

As I found out from For a Good Time, Call…, big black dildo jokes can be funny. Just ask Dr. Seuss’s penis. I really mean this.

When Lauren Miller and Ari Graynor reluctantly find themselves sharing an expensive New York apartment with little means to pay rent, the cantankerous pair fall into the phone sex industry, at least as much as one can fall into such a thing. To be fair, Ari has already been putting her phone sex talents to use for some time, and uptight Lauren’s the one who needs to ditch the Puritan trip. The two even learn to like each other but are forced to traverse the classic high wire act of balancing a professional life against fake threeway orgies with faceless strangers. We can all relate.

Although the pair’s descent into Heisenbergian levels of structured business is fun to watch, I never bought Miller’s turn from prissy neat freak to Southern Bell’s skankiest southern belle. Rather than, you know, continue a job search beyond one failed interview, she just kinda shrugs and hops aboard the sex express — the Sexpress, I’ll call it. How does one feign eating butt crack with a silver spoon still in their mouth? Graynor makes for an enthralling  blond firecracker and vulgar counterpart, and one or two surprise drama bombs prevent her from becoming a younger, paints suit-ier Samantha Jones clone. And that’s nice since Justin Long’s gay pillar of wisdom can’t escape a similar tired stereotype. Get with the times. Or get with Happy Endings at the very least.

For a Good Time, Call… does offer up plenty of laughs, most notably through hilarious cameos from unlikely horny callers. At other points, its script has trouble divorcing anything intimate from the obvious hilarity we should experience every time a Jewish princess uncomfortably enunciates ‘cock’ and ‘cornhole.’ In fact, it’s a lot like when Maude giggles ‘penis’ in Knocked Up. And no, I don’t know why I keep referencing Apatow movies. Director Jamie Travis doesn’t add much beyond pretty colors and polished two-shots, but he’s plenty serviceable. And to be fair, I’d rather look at Lauren Miller for 90 minutes than yet another cutaway to a Brooklyn bungalow or more b-roll footage of ethnically ambiguous New Yorkers lounging in market squares. Enough of that already.

Though only Graynor’s character seems capable of making decisions without sudden epiphanies, For a Good Time, Call… is charming and cute enough to succeed as a quirky dramedy. Despite the bubble gum uptown aesthetic, there’s some humanity underneath the matching designer handbags and relationship cliches, and its climax is clever in delivery, even if half of its ‘o face’ doesn’t ring true. As far as any lasting commentary on American unemployment though, I’m stumped. How about… two self-starters form a small business based around unchained sexual inhibitions in a free market system? This one’s for the libertarians, I guess.

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