by Catherine Tan
Watching “For a Good Time, Call…” is like listening to a friend telling you a story. You chuckle and laugh at the appropriate moments, but you don’t consider it enough to serve as a script for a movie.
Right from the beginning, “Good Time” conjures up a style reminiscent of a romantic comedy. The songs on the soundtrack may have never been used in a movie before, but they certainly feel like they have been. And like many other romantic comedies before it, the film takes place in New York City, much like “When Harry Met Sally,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “You’ve Got Mail” and several more.
But to a degree, “Good Time” gets by on that sense of familiarity. The characters are not expected to be fully developed because the audience should recognize them immediately. Lauren (Lauren Anne Miller) is the conservative, boring brunette, Katie (Ari Gaynor), is the fun, irresponsible blonde, and Jesse (Justin Long) is the supportive gay best friend. And the plot is simple—Lauren and Katie are enemies who are forced to share an apartment together. Their relationship takes an interesting turn when Lauren discovers that Katie is a phone sex operator, and agrees to help her establish a phone sex line of her own.
One of the cleverest choices the film makes is to play with the conventions of a female friendship, as if it were in fact a romantic relationship. It is even jokingly suggested that the two characters may be developing romantic feelings for each other.
But aside from this interesting sort of playfulness, “Good Time” follows a tired pattern, and yet comes off as disjointed and confused. Miller’s acting is mostly bland and forced. Many other actors drift in randomly throughout the film, like Seth Rogen and Kevin Smith. Their appearances are so small that it seems like the film could only hire them for one day, and as a result, their cameos are distracting, rather than funny.
“For A Good Time, Call…” is full of cute moments and amusing jokes, but it doesn’t strive to be anything more. For a comedy about phone sex operators, it feels oddly safe. It isn’t very vulgar, and it never delves into anything too controversial. The story unfolds in a very predictable manner, due to its structure. And although the main characters are likable, the audience never feels like they get to know them.
It’s a clever concept that never feels fully developed, due to the romantic comedy style that the film is so attached to. Fans of the genre will likely enjoy spending time with Lauren and Katie, but they will not receive anything worth calling home about.
Catherine Tan is a staff writer. Email her at email@example.com.