Before I get to my review of the film For a Good Time, Call …, I should probably put it in context. First, you should know that I did not intend to see a movie Friday night. My original plan was to watch soccer. But when I arrived at Trinity Hall, in Mockingbird Station, I was too late to find a place to stand, much less sit.
You should also know that, when I decided to see a movie instead, since the Angelika is next door, I chose For a Good Time, Call … only because its next showing (7:10 pm) was convenient. I wasn’t exactly desperate to see it. For one thing, from what I could tell, there were absolutely no dance numbers in it.
Most important, though, is the following detail: about 15 minutes into the movie, I fell dead asleep. I slept so soundly that, once the credits had finished rolling and the house lights had come up and the nice woman in my row roused me from my slumber, it took me a moment to figure out where I was. When I did, I rushed out of the theater with such haste that I left my phone behind, and the nice woman had to be
even nicer and chase me down to return it.
(If you saw me that night, no doubt sleeping with mouth agape, snoring like a bull mastiff with an upper respiratory infection, I apologize. Thanks for not posting those photos on Facebook, or at least not tagging me in them.)
Now, then, my review.
For a Good Time, Call … tells the story of straight-laced Lauren (Lauren Anne Miller, who also co-wrote the film) and party girl Katie (Ari Graynor). They are forced to live together because Katie is about to lose her roomy New York apartment, and the recently dumped and jobless Lauren needs a place to live. Katie fills most of her time with frivolous pursuits such as learning to pole dance. Lauren is trying to break into publishing. Then Lauren finds out what Katie does for a living: she runs a phone sex line out of her bedroom. Lauren decides to join forces with Katie, handling the business side of the operation.
Soon after, the action shifts to a castle in medieval France, populated solely by a fire-breathing dragon. The dragon, as it turns out, is actually a man named Dough Crin, who has been cursed by an evil witch who looks a lot like that lady who cut me off in traffic the other day. He can escape his fate only by having a conversation with my parents about how I really got that scar on my foot when I was a kid. It’s not explicitly stated, but strongly implied, that this dragon-man is deathly afraid of garbage disposals and has a beard you could set a watch by.
The dragon’s adventure is interrupted by a catastrophic earthquake. I have to take a moment to credit director Jamie Travis for filming it so viscerally. You can really feel the earth move. It’s as though your seat is being kicked repeatedly while someone shushes you. When the dust settles, we have been transported to an illegal cage fight in rural Louisiana, where the combatants are armed with that jean jacket I left in the bleachers in middle school and the password to my Gmail account.
When we finally catch up with Lauren, she has to move from her behind-the-scenes role of handling billings and so on to actually making sexy talk with clients. Despite her conservative nature, she takes to this new position quite well, and business is booming. Eventually, though, Lauren has an opportunity to leave phone sex behind, and she faces a tough decision: should she pursue her dreams at the expense of her business and friendship with Katie?
Which leads us to the conclusion. Lauren, Katie, and everyone I’ve ever met are on the aircraft carrier from Top Gun, and they re-enact the last 20 minutes of You Got Served and, briefly, the final battle from Drumline. Then I become point guard for the Dallas Mavericks and, in a tough, seven-game series, we win the NBA championship and I am rewarded with a bear cub named Greg. Then, after performing a concert with Jay-Z, I fall down an elevator shaft that is located in a new pair of pants Lauren and Katie bought for me.
I give it four out of five stars.
WRITE TO ZAC.CRAIN@DMAGAZINE.COM.