Review: 'For a Good Time,' look elsewhere

Lauren Miller, left, and Ari Graynor play roommates who start a phone sex business to pay the rent.

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Lauren Miller, left, and Ari Graynor play roommates who start a phone sex business to pay the rent.

Save the money you might spend for a ticket to see For a Good Time, Call... and just read a dive bar's restroom wall for free. That's the sub-level of comedy here, with a litany of crude sexual euphemisms and phallic images passed off as jokes.

Shocking? Yes. Funny? Not really.

For a Good Time, Call... sets back the trend of women behaving badly in movies, after Bridesmaids proved feminine raunchiness can be creative and fun. This movie is neither.

Co-writer Lauren Anne Miller plays Lauren Powell, a prudish sort whose boyfriend dumps her for being so boring. She'll remain boring even after shedding her inhibitions while operating a phone sex business. Miller is married to pot-and-gutter comic Seth Rogen, explaining the abysmal taste of this project and the fact it ever got made.

Lauren is joined in her business endeavor by Katie Steele (Ari Graynor, sort of a Kate Hudson with more carbs). In college, Katie drunkenly doused Lauren with a jumbo cup of urine. Now they're bonded by a sitcom-slim predicament — how will they pay the rent? — urged along by a standard-issue gay pal (Justin Long, too swishy for laughs).

The expected obstacles arise, including two surprise visits by Lauren's parents, who don't know what she's doing for money. The parents are played by Don McManus and Meredith Vieira — my bad, that's Mimi Rogers finally showing her age. Eventually the young women develop faintly Sapphic feelings for each other, in part suggested by Katie's warm smile at finding Lauren's hair stuck on a bar of soap. Ah, friendship.

Katie also violates the cardinal rule of sex entrepreneurs by falling in love with a client (Mark Webber), while Lauren decides if she'd rather take the financially secure job of her dreams or continue faking orgasms for strangers. The fact that she waffles is the movie's saddest commentary on what women really want, and what they'll do to earn it.

For a Good Time, Call... never puts these women fully in control of their lives, no matter how much they try to rationalize their demeaning actions. Lauren and Katie are content being objectified — hey, it pays the rent — and we're supposed to cheer them. No, thank you.

Steve Persall can be reached at persall@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8365.

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For a Good Time, Call...

Director: Jamie Travis

Cast: Lauren Anne Miller, Ari Graynor, Justin Long, Mark Webber, James Wolk, Mimi Rogers

Screenplay: Lauren Anne Miller, Katie Anne Naylon

Rating: R; strong sexual content and profanity, drug content

Running time: 85 min.

Grade: F

Review: 'For a Good Time,' look elsewhere 09/13/12 [Last modified: Friday, September 14, 2012 3:00am]

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