Celebrity, Women

For a Good Time, Call…: Dirty Talk and Female Friendship For The Win

will admit, I had my misgivings about For a Good Time, Call…. Although I was excited to see the trailer before Magic Mike back in June, as it got closer to the release date, I got a little skeptical.
Would this be aBridesmaids (2011) knock off? Would the film end with the girls giving up the phone sex business due to it being “dirty?” Would they wind up fighting over a man? Oh look, Lauren Miller is a brunette in a classic dress and Ari Graynor is a blonde in a leopard print dress–are they going to do theBetty and Veronica thing? Luckily, after seeing it this past Wednesday, I was very satisfied.

For A Good Time, Call… is very raunchy. There’s no way around it. However, it istastefully raunchy (if there is such a thing.) The talk is dirty, the visuals, not so much. While they depict men climaxing to our heroine’s voices, there is no, uh, real visual evidence. The women keep their clothes on, and nobody defecates in a sink. This is something I appreciated as a film with this subject matter could have very easily done cheap sight gags involving body fluid, but given that there was a lot of dirty talk, there really was no need for the, uh, visual aids. Props to the writers and producers for not going that route.

The best part of this film for me was the friendship between reserved Lauren (Lauren Miller, also co-writer and executive producer) and party girl Katie (Ari Graynor, also executive producer.) Although the girls started out as enemies thanks to a college incident involving pee in a cup and a new car, it avoided the Bride Wars (2009) route of the women being mean to each other just for the sake of being mean to each other. Lauren and Katie make a geniune effort to be civilized roommates given that they’re both in a predicament–Lauren got dumped and kicked out of her apartment and fired from her job on top of everything else; Katie’s on the verge of eviction as her building is no longer rent controlled. When Lauren stumbles upon Katie’s business, while shocked, she doesn’t judge Katie for panting and moaning and telling customers that their “dick is so huge, it’s scaring me!” over the phone–she encourages Katie to go into business for herself, so she can make a better profit than what the company she is working for is giving her, and helps her out by first doing billing, then becoming a second operator. The women bond over this, and learn things about each other and themselves. I don’t want to give too much away, but it is very sweet and almost well done–much like other female friendship movies, there is a big fight, but the resolution is bit off, especially as it takes place so close to the end, the timing is bit wonky. There’s also a very small subplot involving Lauren getting another job outside of the phone sex line that disappears and reappears at the end, which makes me wonder if the film was supposed to be a bit longer, but got cut in fear of people losing interest after so long and thus, everything got crammed into the last twenty minutes.

As for the men in this movie, it’s a healthy representation–they’re not ornamental like inBridesmaids, but they don’t take over the film. You have three “main” guys–the girls’ mutual friend Jesse (Justin Long,) Lauren’s ex, Charlie (James Wolk) and Katie’s client turned love interest, Sean (Mark Webber.) They fill certain roles, sure–Jesse’s comic relief, Charlie is an antagonist (he tells Lauren he’s dumping her because she’s boring, which made my eye twitch a bit. How rude!) and Sean is a love interest–but they’re filled well. The performances of Long, Wolk and Webber make them work, and give what could have been flat roles great personality.

I recommend this film as girl’s night out film: it’s quick, it’s raunchy, and it’s fun. It probably won’t win any Oscars or the same accolades as Bridesmaids (although I do hope to see Ari Graynor in more films. I completely agree with other reviewers who loved her. Lauren Miller exceeded my expectations, but Ari Graynor really stole the show.) but it’s a good time and will make you appreciate your friends. I texted my best friend after my showing!

So, LivLunatics, have any of you been able to see For a Good Time, Call…? What did you think? Was it too raunchy, not raunchy enough? What did you make of Katie and Lauren’s friendship? Who was your favorite cameo? For those not in major cities, do you plan to see this if it gets a wide release?

Celebrity, Women

Good Movies For Girls–The Works of Hayao Miyazaki

With the talk of Lego feeling the need to suddenly segregate their toy lines and the mixed messages magazines are sending, I started thinking about my nieces, ages five, three, and seven months.  mononoke1Before I know it, they won’t be spending as much time with my sister and brother-in-law, and will be bombarded with these messages that they’re supposed to be a certain way. I know they won’t be able to avoid every message, but I want them to be aware that they can say no–I can be who I want to be! Life isn’t all about chasing men and living up to a very unrealistic standard presented to me by the media!

I’m thinking the best way to do this is to introduce them to the works of one of the greatest animated filmmakers of all time, Hayao Miyazaki. When you think of women in anime, is your first thought a hyper-sexualized tweenage girl in a sailor fuku (uniform?) I thought so. In Miyazaki films, these girls don’t exist. Nor do the snow white princesses of Disney films who are waiting for their prince to come. Miyazaki does have princesses, but they’re not waiting for a man. In Princess Mononoke (Japan 1997/US 1999,) the titular “princess” , San, isn’t in a frilly dress waiting for a prince to deliver a glass slipper, rather, she’s a human raised by wolves who is doing her part to protect the environment. She does meet a man, but she does not spend the bulk of the movie trying to win his affections–she is out to protect nature, which is a wonderful message to send rather than “let the man save you!”

ponyo7402901Miyazaki does delve into fairy tale lore, using The Little Mermaid as the basis for Ponyo (Japan 2008/US 2009.) However, instead of being a teenage mermaid, Ponyo is a magical goldfish who wishes to experience human life and becomes a real five-year-old girl. The magic required to turn Ponyo into a human causes a massive tsunami, which Ponyo and her new friend Sosuke must try and correct. Although (spoiler alert) Ponyo does become a permanent human in the end thanks to Sosuke’s kiss, it is very innocent and not romantic as again, the characters are five-years-old. It is a such a sweet story, and the animation is beautiful. I cried–nothing sad happened, but the story was so sweet and so beautiful.

tumblr_lwn24gDvae1qcmn3aThe sweetest and most beautiful (and most relatable) story of Miyazaki’s films to me isKiki’s Delivery Service(Japan 1989/US 1998,) which I cannot wait to show my nieces (they don’t quite have the attention span yet.) Kikiis about a thirteen-year-old girl and her talking black cat, Jiji, who must go away from home for a year in order to hone her magical talent. Kiki can’t make potions or tell fortunes, but she is very adept at flying her broom. She moves to a small coastal town, working as a delivery girl for a pregnant bakery owner. Everyone loves Kiki, especially a local boy named Tombo, who is very into aviation. Kiki is initially unsure of her feelings for Tombo, finding him to be a bother (especially as he has the tendency to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.) He invites her to a party, but she is sidelined by a very rainy night and a delivery from a kind, elderly woman to her unappreciative granddaughter. Kiki then falls ill, causing her to lose her powers and question who she really is. She takes to the woods, spending time with an young artist who helps her get back to normal. She also spends a day getting to know Tombo, who invites her to see a big deal dirigible. Kiki declines, instead spending her time with the kind elderly woman with the ungrateful granddaughter. While watching the news, Kiki sees that Tombo is in trouble, and rushes to save him, despite not having her magical powers. But using her brain and self confidence, Kiki gets her broom to fly, and rescues her new friend. Notice I said friend–they don’t kiss, they don’t fall in love, they are just friends, which is something more thirteen-year-olds need to see. Romance and Hollywood’s idea of true love is not the be all end and all, especially when you’re a tween/teenager.

I’m not saying, “oh, tweens shouldn’t watch romantic movies, it’ll brainwash them!” Not at all, I loved those movies growing up, I think it’s natural to want to see that, especially at such a formative age. I think it’s also pretty clear that Kiki does have a crush on Tombo; she just doesn’t know how to handle it (I think it’s pretty safe to say that the witchcraft here is a metaphor for puberty in certain instances.) just think that movies like the ones Miyazaki makes should be incorporated, to show that boys and girls can be friends, there doesn’t need to be a constant romantic/sexual pressure that kids that age today are being shown. All of Miyazaki’s works are refreshing that they’re not hyper trendy, they’re not just about selling toys, they’re positive. San, Ponyo and Kiki are refreshing, a nice change from Belle, Ariel and Cinderella.

If you need a nice, sweet movie for your children that doesn’t bombard you with commercialism and “finding a boyfriend is the be all and end all,” Miyazaki has an extensive collection of refreshing female role models and sweet stories. These three films are only the beginning.

Are any of you LivLunatics familiar with the works of Miyazaki? What’s your favorite? Did I forget a film?