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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 31 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 35
Intriguing For a Good Time doesn't quite connect
Arts & Entertainment
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Intriguing For a Good Time doesn't quite connect

by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

FOR A GOOD TIME, CALL &
Opens August 31


Lauren Powell (Lauren Miller) is at a crossroads. The wannabe literary editor is suddenly out on the street, her longtime boyfriend Charlie (James Wolk) abruptly breaking up with her, claiming together they are nothing short of boring. With few options, she is forced to move into the apartment of Katie Steele (Ari Graynor), a former college acquaintance she didn't get along with then and figures she'll have just as much trouble stomaching now. But mutual best friend Jesse (Justin Long) insists this is the best situation for both young women. He's sure they'll become bosom buddies if they just put their prejudices aside and keep an open mind.

Even though he's proven right, Jesse could never have fathomed what would end up bringing Lauren and Katie into the bonds of sisterly friendship. See, the latter has been moonlighting as a phone-sex operator and, never one to let a good idea stagnate, the former discovers a way for them both to make good money - by going into business for themselves.

For a Good Time, Call&, written by Miller and Katie Anne Naylon, and helmed by award-winning short film director Jamie Travis, isn't without its charms. Loosely influenced by events the writers themselves went through as college roommates, there is a refreshing sweetness to the film, an inspired look at female friendship and empowerment that had me smiling ear to ear. Miller and Graynor are perfectly cast as the leads, each showing more layers and shadings then one would anticipate based on the film's early, rather simplistic moments.

Even so, and although there were plenty of little segments here and there that had me chuckling loudly, overall this movie sadly doesn't work. The dialogue tends to be stilted - oftentimes forced - with everyone speaking to one another in Whit Stillman-like cadences that kept me at arm's length. The staccato nature of the lines subverts the scenario at almost every turn, and if not for the likeability and strengths of the two actresses, it's likely the movie would be borderline insufferable.

Which is a pity, because there is wit and intelligence to the writing, and I like the fact that Miller and Naylon have presented the phone-sex scenario essentially as a red herring, in order to talk about female bonding and sexuality in frank, refreshingly adult terms. Lauren and Katie come across as real young women, having discussions that are easy to relate to, about issues and topics universal in their honesty and appeal.

But that hardly matters if the movie itself is impossible to engage with on an emotional level. I never felt I had been brought into the proceedings, never felt part of the conversations, and, unlike last year's Bridesmaids or September's raucous female-driven comedy Bachelorette with Kirsten Dunst and Isla Fisher, For a Good Time, Call& frustratingly just sits there, meandering in circles for far too much of its brief, 86-minute running time. I didn't care what happened to Lauren and Katie, wasn't sure it mattered if their friendship survived or if their mutual love for one another would ever be expressed.

Miller and Naylon are talented writers, and I'm curious to see what they come up with next. I just don't feel that their script for this particular feature ever catches fire, and while I appreciate that they've constructed multidimensional female heroines, I wish they somehow could have also made them worth caring about. For a Good Time, Call& doesn't connect, and as engaging as the conversation can sometimes be overall, this is one call I felt like hanging up on.

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Intriguing For a Good Time doesn't quite connect
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