It may not exactly be groundbreaking, but in the world of cinematic comedy, For a Good Time, Call… is at least aiming to push into new territory.
“When I first read the script I was so refreshed by it,” says Canadian director Jamie Travis about the female-oriented phone-sex comedy. “I had been reading a series of extremely testosterone-driven scripts — there’s so many of those in Hollywood — that it was a breath of fresh air to see a story that was told from such a female perspective.”
The movie, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, stars Ari Graynor and Lauren Miller as two rival roommates who are compelled to create a crafty phone-sex hotline in order to pay the bills. While the concept surely alludes to more titillating notions, Travis and cast insist making this kind of sex comedy wasn’t all play.
“It was not fun. This was serious, serious business,” says Graynor stoically before bursting into a fit of laughter. “It was crazy! What a ridiculous way to show up at work.”
Graynor’s (who also executive produces) first day on set involved filming a dirty call with filmmaker Kevin Smith (making a rather climactic cameo appearance).
“It’s quite a funny thing,” says the Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist star. “To walk on set and go ‘Hi, I’m Ari Graynor, I’m a very serious actress, I’m also one of the executive producers, thank you for being here’ and then all of a sudden I’m on a bed saying crazy things. There’s no vanity in comedy and certainly in this movie you can’t take yourself too seriously.”
For such a wild premise, the film actually has a fairly humble origin. Co-written by Miller and producer Katie Anne Naylon, the comedy began when the real-life friends were a “random roommate match” back in college. To Miller’s initial shock, the quiet student discovered that her new roommate had started her own successful sex hotline.
”It was such a funny thing,” says Naylon. “I thought what a great backdrop for the story that we really wanted to tell, which was about two girls finding themselves and becoming friends.”
Time passed and while the pair kept in touch, Miller moved to Los Angeles and landed a handful of film appearances, including Superbad, where she met her future husband, comedian Seth Rogen. Five years after graduation, however, the friends noticed a particular absence of female film comedies so they decided to collaborate on a script.
“We loved the movies of the ’80s — Troop Beverly Hills or Working Girl, things with Bette Midler and Goldie Hawn hanging out — and we just wanted that to happen again and not always have it be about getting the guy,” says Naylon.
“And girls are dirty,” adds Miller, noting the tempered tone of today’s romantic comedies. “That’s the way we talk to each other, and not just about sex, but also in the way we feel about our friends. I think that was important for us to put up there on the screen. As writers who are somewhat young and starting out, in order to tell something that people can relate to — it seemed like the way to go.”
The cast also recognizes that the brash intent may have been beaten to the big screen by last year’s successful Bridesmaids, but they remain hopeful that their film will at least be part of a new swell of original female-oriented comedies.
“This movie was written three years ago,” says Graynor. “But I think because of the success of Bridesmaids, there’s more of a light shining on this issue (and) people want to go see these movies.
“We all love our romantic comedies but there’s more stories and more comedy available with women other than just a guy getting a girl, and I think there’s this exciting moment now where not only are women taking things into their own hands, but people are going to see them, and hopefully it will just allow for more and more of that entertainment.”