For a Good Time, Call…
Ladies, that’s not how phone sex works! Nevermind…
People have finally figured out women can be funny. And by people, I mean Hollywood executives who bankroll films. In the wake of Bridesmaids showing female centric comedy written by and starring women could be both entertaining and profitable, we’ve begun to see a slow trickle of other female driven raunchy humor on the big screen. For a Good Time, Call… features a duo of ladies who run a phone sex line. They also have their own personal and relationship problems along the way, because we can only have so many scenes in a row of women moaning on the phone to guys jerking it. But there is plenty of that, and it’s hilarious.
Let me tell you about wearing pants that go up to your armpit!
Just gonna Skype into the next Infernal Brains recording session…
Lauren Powell’s love life and career are both thrown off track as her longtime boyfriend dismisses her as boring and promptly leaves for Italy alone, and her boss unexpectedly retires and shutters the company. Within a week, she’s homeless and jobless. Katie Steele is a more working class lady who can’t afford the apartment her grandmother owned as it shifts to non-rent controlled. She’s about to lose her connection to her past.
These girls in economic dire straights are brought together by Jesse, much to their mutual disdain (thanks to an ugly incident in college involving a cup full of what isn’t beer.) Their disdain pushed aside out of monetary necessity. But things begin to change when Lauren overhears Katie doing phone sex. For money. Even worse is when she finds out how badly Katie is getting ripped off by the company, and how Katie has the idea of how to set up her over business, but not the business know-how to do it. As interviews are just dead ends and wait lists, Lauren agrees to becomes Katie’s manager and set up her own phone line in exchange for lower rent. Soon the girls are raking in the dough and becoming close friends.
Who argues about which Doctor Who Doctor was the best during sex?
Things progress, and the friendship is strained as drama hits the air. Despite personal growths and accomplishments, there is the ever-present danger of slipping back to their old lives. Was their friendship something real, or was it as fake as the moaning in the calls they do?
A comedy whose humor is much more than the phone sex business setting, For a Good Time Call does its best work outside of the phone calls, in the characters and their quirks and relationships with each other. Despite the the phone sex business, much of the film is nonexploitative despite the exploitative subject matter. Actual sex is far removed from the phone calls, they are purely fantasy. When actual sex does enter the picture, it is plot-driven and not there just because they can do it.
The dialogue driven piece feels far more grounded in the real world. You won’t find scenes of opulent indulgent overspending or women fighting over who gets to crap in the lone toilet. It’s more low-key, but feels more right. If they tried to push it too hard, the whole film would unravel. Instead, it holds together well, a good mix of disappointment, self-fulfillment, hilarious scenes, and awkwardness.
But can it play Angry Birds???
FAIR WARNING: EVERYTHING BELOW HERE HAS SOME SPOILERS!!!
For a Good Time Call is voyeuristic fantasy fulfillment, showing the faceless voices on the other side of the phone. The fantasy is reality, a glimpse behind the curtain at the wizards running the show. The real deal is an essay on friendship. The film takes a bold choice for a movie that deals heavily with sexual talk and has doesn’t oversexualize the female characters. They are still shown as beautiful and attractive with clothing that improves as they become more comfortable with what they do for a living. It’s a confident sexy, not an exploitative revealing sexy.
The phone plays center stage, not only is the entire business built around the phone line, but Katie and Lauren’s friendship is represented by a hot pink classic phone. Each gives the other a phone, and with that they are free to become the fantasy makers. They’re empowered to give the callers what they desire. Both due to the phone nature of the business and the female written script, there is a lot of verbal communication.
We need more toilet in this commercial. More toilet!
Men are portrayed desexualized and nonthreatening most are reduced to simple joke appearances, the depiction of their sexual urges reduced to a nonsexual nature through humor. The ladies are in total control, and almost every call-in customer is depicted as powerless and ridiculous. The major male characters are a nonthreatening just-one-of-the-girls gay friend, a potential boyfriend so socially awkward he can barely function when in a room with other people (and accepts all of Katie’s flaws without criticism), a nonthreatening father figure, and a stereotypical bad boyfriend who loses the power he has over Katie and is exposed for the boring fraud he is by her own success at her life on her terms.
Male characters emasculate to the point where they are nothing more than the giant massive dongs that decorate a table in one scene. Their maleness doesn’t matter. Lauren’s jerk boyfriend exists only as a measuring device, while Katie’s boyfriend serves as a catalyst for her realizing her own feelings towards her friend. And let’s face it, penises are pretty silly.
The ending as the girls reunite but still leave unsettled questions. It’s not a big scheme or plot payoff that causes the friends to rejoin, but their individual realizations that they’ve changed and need each other. It’s an ending that I don’t think you’d often see written by a man. And the film is stronger for it. It plays out natural and feels like what would happen.
For a Good Time, Call is one film you should not hang up on! (Sorry, that’s soooo awful. So sorry. I’m really sorry.)
I killed a leopard with the pink phone!
Disclaimer: Saw this during an advanced free screening, and they tried to bribe us with bags of candy! Candy! Also there was a lap dance instructor there for some reason that would teach you important lap dancing skills if you so desired. I don’t know if that’s a bribe or not. In any event, rest assured the candy was not eaten until I wrote this. You got to have your journalistic integrity!
Rated 7/10 (The cup, face #13, the pole, the interview, face #212, face #344, the captain)
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