There's a pretty good sitcom buried in For A Good Time, Call..., a movie whose main comedic concept is that it's funny hearing pretty ladies say dirty things. It's exactly what critics of Sarah Silverman claim is her act - looking good and spouting obscene filth. Except that Silverman has something to say, and jokes, and is funny.
How sitcom-y is For A Good Time, Call...? The premise begins with mismatched roommates, one of the hoariest sitcom concepts. This time it's demure Lauren who moves in with wild girl Katie; the two met briefly in college and developed a lifelong hatred after Katie accidentally peed in Lauren's face. It's a meet raunch instead of a meet cute. Anyway, these two girls quickly become friends, and when Lauren discovers that Katie moonlights as a phone sex operator, they become business partners in their own phone sex line. Cue dirty talk sequences featuring cameos by Seth Rogen, Kevin Smith and Ken Marino (if you've ever wanted to watch Kevin Smith jerk off in a cab, this movie is definitely for you).
After that there's pretty much zero conflict or narrative drive. There's a brief hiccup towards the end of the movie, but it's just in place so the two girls can reaffirm their delightful love for each other. Along the way they have sitcom adventures like: hiring a new operator who is not what they expect, Katie falling for the guy who calls the sex line every night at 10 and Lauren's parents stopping by at the most inopportune moments! It's all so rote and shot so brightly and without shadows that you'll keep expecting the commercials for TBS' other comedies any moment now.
The bummer here is that the movie isn't bad, it's just incredibly mediocre. The film is watchable, but it never really comes alive. It certainly never comes alive enough to keep you from asking "Do people really do phone sex lines anymore? Hasn't the internet, with its video chat capabilities, truly changed the landscape for remote sex?" Hell, hasn't everybody moved on to sexting?
That mediocrity infuses almost every element of the movie - the script is following boring beats to move forward, lead Lauren Miller is stiff and dull (she also co-wrote the film) and the direction is flat and appears to have taken its cue from the film's masturbating co-star. The one shining element of the movie is Ari Graynor, who is sexy and funny even without being given any funny things to do or say. She just has a terrific big energy that keeps the film's limp heart beating enough to get to the end.
I wish I liked the movie more because the central female relationship is the kind that rarely gets explored on film. While the meet raunch is cheap and unfunny, the way these two characters relate feels real and warm. If the rest of the movie had lived up to that, or to Graynor's endlessly appealing presence, this might have been an okay movie. As it stand For A Good Time, Call... is a totally forgettable piece of substandard fluff that will one day be a blip on Graynor's resume.