‘For a Good Time, Call…’ fails to find humor in raunch

  • Wed Aug 29th, 2012 6:36pm
  • Life

By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic

I’ll bet the makers of “For a Good Time, Call…” would dearly love to read a story about their movie that does not name-check “Bridesmaids.”

So just put the B-word out of your mind for a moment and we’ll consider this new film as just another R-rated, female-driven slapstick comedy with plenty of jokes about sex.

Now then. Two former college enemies, Lauren (Lauren Anne Miller) and Katie (Ari Graynor) must patch it up in order to save money on rent in a New York apartment. They move in together.

It’s only a short step to a money-making scheme: They will run a phone-sex business. And that, with a straightforward and monotonous directness, is what they do.

Other than the prospect of two women being extensively profane, does this movie have actual jokes?

Yes, although they tend to be about the wacky clients on the other end of the telephone line or about Lauren’s parents showing up at the apartment during the middle of a “work day.”

The one reliable comedy wellspring is Justin Long, as the flamingly exuberant mutual friend of the two women. Long has been such a funny performer in so many undistinguished movies (and a few good ones, like “Youth in Revolt”), that it’s only a matter of time before he really blows up on his own.

Most scenes include a variation of Lauren’s prissiness colliding with Katie’s cheerful vulgarity, a stale set-up that is made bearable by the fact that the actresses are both self-assured and appealing, in different ways.

Lauren Miller (whose real-life beau Seth Rogen pops up for a cameo) is adept at playing the princess role, and her charmingly underplayed style gives a contrast to Ari Graynor’s brassier, blonder approach.

Miller also co-wrote the movie, with Katie Anne Naylon, and the peppy direction comes courtesy of Jamie Travis. The foul-mouthed mode is in line with the Sarah Silverman school of comedy, although Silverman is generally funny.

And that’s the problem. Be as potty-mouthed as you want, but please be funny, too. “For a Good Time” doesn’t find that sweet spot nearly often enough.

“For a Good Time, Call…” ½

Two unlikely roommates (Ari Graynor and co-writer Lauren Anne Miller) go into business with a phone-sex line, a monotonous comedy idea brightened only by the appealing personalities of the actresses and the exuberant efforts of co-star Justin Long.

Rated: R for language, subject matter.

Showing: Pacific Place.