Starring Lauren Miller, Ari Graynor. Written by Lauren Miller, Katie Anne Naylon. Directed by Jamie Travis. 18A. 85 min. Opens Aug. 31.
For all of the filthy talk in this comedy about two young women who strike it rich with their own phone-sex business, nothing can match the nastiness of its ickiest sight. That would be the cameo by Kevin Smith as a New Jersey cabbie who pleasures himself while a customer waits in the backseat.
Thankfully, most of For a Good Time, Call… is less likely to cause any lasting psychological trauma. Directed by Toronto filmmaker Jamie Travis, the movie may occasionally get fouled up with so-so gags and patchy plotting but it still makes the grade as a piece of sweet and raunchy fun.
Co-writer Lauren Miller plays Lauren, a straitlaced New Yorker who needs a new place to live after she’s dumped by her boyfriend. Upon the urging of Jesse (Justin Long), the girls’ mutual gay BFF, Lauren moves in with Katie (Ari Graynor), a flightier type who needs a roomie in order to keep her apartment. Needless to say, this odd couple has some issues living together, though things smooth out once Lauren realizes the untapped business potential of Katie’s phone-sex gig.
Though the pair’s conversations with their clients contain plenty of quality smut, the film is ultimately less memorable as a sex farce than as a surprisingly sincere celebration of female friendship. A standout in small roles in Celeste and Jesse Forever and Whip It, Graynor proves her mettle as a lead thanks to her unruly energy and raspy delivery. Her chemistry with Miller makes it easy to forgive the sitcom contrivances. It’s just as pleasing to see that Travis has retained the kitsch-laden visual design that distinguished his short films, even if that image of Smith at his slobbiest is not soon forgotten.