For a Good Time, Call…

September 14, 2012 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Lauren Miller, Ari Graynor, Justin Long
Written by: Lauren Miller (“Girls! Girls! Girls!”) and Katie Anne Naylon (debut)
Directed by: Jamie Travis (debut)

In the film “For a Good Time, Call…” reluctant roommates Lauren (Lauren Miller) and Katie (Ari Graynor) share a rocky past that stretches back over a decade to college and includes one of them being doused in the drunken urine of the other. After both of them come to realize they can’t afford to live alone in New York City, mutual friend Jesse (Justin Long, mincing around embarrassingly) facilitates their new living arrangement. After clashing predictably over things like the color of the walls and the placement of a dead grandmother’s belongings, the two forge an unlikely bond when Lauren discovers Katie is a phone sex operator. With Lauren’s business-minded attitude and Katie’s natural talent at talking dirty, a lucrative endeavor is born.

Fans of HBO’s TV series “Girls” might feel a twinge of deja vu in the initial set-up, what with its sexually-frank narrative about 20-something women struggling financially in New York City while pursuing jobs in the publishing industry, etcetera. Pair that with a shaky first act and the audience might end up sighing and checking their collective watches. But when the girls’ phone sex business takes off, so does the movie.

First-time feature director Jamie Travis adds a dash of indie quirk to the “Bridesmaids”-approved formula of girls being raunchy—though he doesn’t avoid the cheese entirely (see: any scene with Justin Long and his dog or the small roles played by Nia Vardalos and Mimi Rogers). Casting relative unknowns like Miller (who also co-wrote) and Graynor lends a freshness to the movie that it often doesn’t earn through the screenplay (seriously, are 900 numbers still a thing?) and some well-placed cameos from lewd-comedy ringers like Kevin Smith and Seth Rogen (Miller’s real-life husband) deliver huge laughs. While the foreplay might be boring and unnecessary for some, “For a Good Time, Call…” will have you glad you stuck around for the climax.

Celeste and Jesse Forever

August 31, 2012 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Chris Messina
Directed by: Lee Toland Krieger (“The Vicious Kind”)
Written by: Rashida Jones (debut) and Will McCormack (debut)

As someone who loathes the conventions and clichés of most modern-day romantic comedies as much as I do, actress/writer/producer Rashida Jones (TV’s “Parks and Recreation”) just might be the perfect woman — at least the perfect woman to spend a day with at the movie theater. Suggest watching something where Katherine Hiegl flips her hair, stumbles around in heels, and falls for a hitman, and she probably wouldn’t be shy about rolling her eyes at the idea.

In the independent rom-com “Celeste and Jesse Forever,” Jones, who co-wrote the screenplay with actor Will McCormack (TV’s “In Plain Sight”), seems to have made a concerted effort with him to avoid what makes many of these boy-meets-girl narratives feel exactly like the one that came before it. “C&JF” isn’t flawless in its attempt by any means, but with some clever dialogue that doesn’t overload on adorableness and an honest performance by Jones herself, there’s enough proof here to believe the genre doesn’t always have to feature a pre-packaged love story.

Directed by Lee Toland Krieger (“The Vicious Kind”), “C&JF” stars Jones and Andy Samberg (“That’s My Boy”) as the title couple going through a divorce but attempting to save the friendship. As a successful marketing trends partner, Celeste has always quietly disapproved of Jesse’s starving-artist lifestyle. “He doesn’t have a checking account or dress shoes,” she criticizes. When both start dating again, the two must come to terms with their break-up by letting go of one another and moving on with their lives.

While the set up sounds like somewhat of a network sitcom, the script takes some unique angles at familiar situations and allows the nerdy chemistry between its leads to play out naturally. Not all rom-coms have to be “When Harry Met Sally” or “Annie Hall,” but it’s nice when they don’t make it a point to be the exact opposite.