So when I received an invite to screen a film about two girls who start a phone sex business, I wondered what about my blog made this seem like a good fit. I did post about vending machine pregnancy tests, maybe that was it?
But the commercial for "For a Good Time, Call" I had heard on Spotify sounded intriguing, so I said, "Sure, I'm in." I went to the screening with no particular expectations. As it turns out, the movie is so cute! Totally dirty, yes, obviously. Sensitive viewers be warned. But it's raunchy/cute if that makes any sense. Phone sex with a heart.
Here's a quick rundown of the plot: Mortal enemies Katie (Ari Graynor) and Lauren (Lauren Anne Miller) find themselves in need of roommates and grudgingly decide to live together, thanks to their mutual bestie Jesse (Justin Long). Lauren, a bit of an uptight over-achiever, soon discovers that free spirit Katie has an interesting side gig, and since Lauren's in need of cash herself, she decides to help Katie make this a legit business. Hence, 1-877-MMM-HMMM!
As strange as this sounds, as I watched the movie, I started to feel invested in their business being a success. You go, girls! As Justin Long says in the movie, "You ladies are living some fucked up version of the American dream."
So the film is completely candy-coated, no realism here, but the lead actors are so much fun you can't help play along. And the friendship between Katie and Lauren is sweet, especially the last scene. The film was made in 16 days and based on writer Katie Anne Naylon's real experience running a phone sex business in college. You can read more about the making of "For a Good Time, Call" here. It opens in select theaters nationwide August 31.
I also loved the film's style - the characters wear great clothes and there's one scene where they create an oh-so-trendy-bunting garland out of thongs that would be cute to copy for a bachelorette party, ha.
So when the film's press tour rolled around to Washington, D.C. last week, and I had the opportunity to interview the film's director, Jamie Travis, the stars Ari Graynor and Lauren Anne Miller, and Katie Anne Naylon who wrote "For a Good Time, Call" with Lauren, I had to ask them about the looks in the film, and if they kept the pink phones from the posters [they did]. I really want a pink phone after seeing this movie. And I am hoping to help them with a craft project for the film's awesome Pinterest page to show how to spray-paint normal phones pink, in case you can't find a pink phone at your local mall.
So read on to learn more about the female friendship in the movie, Ari's character's jumpsuit obsession, Lauren and husband Seth Rogen's King Charles Cavalier named Zelda, and how it's all very meta.
Aannd the transcript of our conversation! (Edited for length)
Me: I really love the clothes that you wear in the movie. I was pointing them out, like that’s Zara. But Ari, I noticed that your character wears more jumpsuits than anyone I’ve ever seen in a movie.
Ari: We had an incredible costume designer named Maya Lieberman. I think we did say the word jumpsuits, but we wanted Katie to kind of have this grandiose sort of outrageous, vaguely 80s vibe in the beginning and then kind of tone it down.
Lauren: And maybe she was wearing some of her grandmother’s clothes
Katie: Yeah, Jamie had this idea for her grandmother’s clothes, right, Jamie?
Jamie: Well, really, she was a junior Mrs. Roper. [Laughs]
Ari: But there’s a lot of good ones. It’s hard to pick a favorite. The denim jumpsuit might be my favorite.
Lauren: But her tush in a jumpsuit is crazy. In that white one when she gives us the matching purses?
Ari: Well, also the only time you really see me in that scene, it’s just an ass shot. And I did take that one [the jumpsuit]. We made this movie for very little money and in 16 days and we had to rent a lot of the costumes. The clothes were either from Lauren’s closet, or rental houses from like Warner Bros.’s rental or something. And I tried to exchange, I tried to give them back another white jumpsuit that I owned.
Me: You had another one?
Ari: Randomly, I happened to have my own white jumpsuit.
Katie: I’m in her hotel room the other night and she’s like, "Let me put on my comfy clothes." For some girls that would be sweatpants that say “Pink” on the ass. No, no, no, no. She was wearing this some of gauze, pink coral, vintage jumpsuit.
Ari: It’s vintage from Austin, Texas. It’s just gauze, kind of a gypsy leg, then a thing here. I was like, "Excuse me while I put on my lounge wear," and they were like, "What? Are you wearing that?" Because were trying on outfits for the next day.
Lauren: I was like, "Wait, are you wearing that tomorrow?" Because it looked like a real outfit.
Katie: She said, "Oh, this is my lounge wear," and I was like, ‘OK, the jumpsuit thing is really happening.
Jamie: My favorite is the teal velour jumper. I just think it’s just so special, it looks so good and rich on camera. The waist looks just tiny and perfect.
Lauren: I remember in her [Maya Lieberman's] first meeting, when she told Jamie, she said, “I want to do this movie because I love to dress cute girls." And she just ran with that, with these candy colors and how these outfits really speak to the characters, and she really just had such smart vision.
Jamie: It’s rare, this came across as a special project to her. In movies, you don’t always get to make people look good. This movie is interesting because it’s very much about their characters, but it makes sense, these are twenty-something girls in New York, they get to look good.
Ari: And also it’s such a key part of the storytelling, how much their look sets up who they are and how they transform, that it wouldn’t have been the same if we were just in sort of hipster-y jeans and t-shirts.
Katie: And then, I don’t know if you noticed, but they start swapping clothes as the movie progresses. I actually like that they’re both not a size zero, that they are like real women. Unless you guys are a size zero, and I’m lying. I can never tell with thin people. It’s like you’re thin, or you’re not. [Laughs]
Me: One of my favorite characters was Zelda the dog. Is it your dog, Lauren?
Lauren: Zelda’s my dog. She’s the love of my life, and I’m so happy that you brought her up, because I get to think about her. I was just Skyping with her last night. She’s amazing.
Jamie: And how would you describe her character?
Katie: Did you notice her arc?
Jamie: Can you give us the dramatist’s persona of Zelda? I’m just curious if she’s one of your favorites.
Katie: Did you see me in the film?
Lauren: She’s in the back of the cab.
Me: Are you? Oh, the Jersey [scene]? That’s funny, that’s cool. So everyone had a cameo. Did Zelda like being an actor?
Lauren: You know, Zelda is kind of a private person. She’s very shy, which worked very well because she will just sit there. She’s not the type of dog that will go up and talk to everyone, you know what I mean?
Ari: She doesn’t even like to go for walks.
Jamie: She’s a real bitch.
Katie: She’s an uptight bitch. [Laughs]
Lauren: She was good, but the problem was, she was supposed to be Jesse’s dog and in the scenes that I’m in, she really looks like she’s my dog, she wouldn’t sit next to him, she would only sit next to me. And in the Lion King [scene] when he lifts her up, that was just the most happy accident. In every other take she follows me off the couch and in just one, she randomly just sat there. And I was just off-screen, just holding my breath, thinking "Oh God, she’s sitting there, she’s sitting there," and Justin hopped down and hoisted her up.
Jamie: It’s such a great example of Justin’s comic genius. In the one time the dog sat still, his mind clicked into the best thing that could possibly happen.
Me: I liked that it was kind of a story of being an entrepreneur in a weird way. I thought that was really cool, like building a business.
Lauren: I think the growth that each of the girls have in the movie is what it’s all about. And that happens in their friendship, in their professional lives, and in their sexuality, and that’s just one part of it. It’s so silly to reference our tagline but you know, “Lose your hang-ups, find your calling.” Being a woman you have all those aspects and that’s something we tried to showcase.
Katie: I’ve always been an entrepreneur, I used to steal fruit and sell it back on the corner, like a little Mexican kid, but in my neighborhood, I was like a little fat redhead kid. People would literally buy grapefruit from me, then go home and say, "Wait, there’s none on our tree either!" That's some kind of a weird Robin Hood thing I did. My best friend in high school and I ran a General Hospital fan club, in which we would turn these photos we had taken of the soap stores into mouse pads and tote bags and we had a membership fee, and then in college I had a phone sex line.
Jamie: And she’s still broke! [Laughs]
Katie: [Laughs] I know, I’m trying to think of a new company! But I really like that idea of a really strong woman who kind of takes her own life by the reins, but she that can still be a really insecure, real person underneath who still has a lot to learn, and that’s something that inspires the movie Katie’s character.
Me: And do you think the girls making it on their own reminds you of making this movie?
Lauren: Making this movie for all of us is such a springboard, I mean Ari’s been acting and obviously done amazing projects up till now, but this is her first lead, and this is the first script that’s gotten made for us, and Jamie’s first feature and it’s so much about us, finding our voices in a way.
Jamie: There’s a lot of meta going on.
Katie: That can be the headline: It’s very meta.
Me: You wrote it for me!
Katie: Well you know, I’m a writer.
Me: I know a lot of it’s autobiographical, well not a lot but...
Katie: Well, yeah, inspired by a true story
Lauren: Katie and I were a random roommate match in college. I asked where the recycling was and had long hair and my boyfriend played the guitar. She called me “Earth Girl.” We had that interesting dynamic. Between us, I’m more of the straight and arrow, and she’s the lively one. But that’s how female friendships are, girls are different and you never know who is going to be your best friend.
Katie: This is pretty universal we’ve found, but I tend to judge women right away, a snap judgement. "She dated Brian, you don’t like her, I don’t like her." Or, "I hate her sweater," or "I want that sweater." You can take one small thing and you decide not to like someone from what you’ve seen, but there’s a lot underneath there that you don’t know about. So how great that Lauren and I did get to become best friends and we ended living together through the rest of college. So there’s that, and also the phone sex hotline that I had in college, that experience was always really funny to talk about. It’s racy and weird, and it’s this nice little hook around this sweet story about female friend love.
Me: Do you want to give a 30-second plug for why readers should see the film?
Katie: It’s a discovery film or surprise film, we like to say. You walk in thinking it’s going to be one thing and you walk out and it’s something totally unexpected. It has a real heart to it and it’s fun and I don’t think you are going to want those two hours back. Also, it’s only an hour and a half. [Laughs]
Ari: It’s like having a dessert for an hour and a half. There’s so few times you get to leave, just having had a fun, feel-good experience and that’s what this is.
Lauren: That’s such a cute way to describe it.
Jamie: It’s like a malt with two straws and a cherry on top, and you can go with your girlfriend, and you can wear cute dresses.
Lauren: For a good time, you should go see…
Katie: You should go with all your girlfriends, it’s like a fun thing and afterwards you can talk about dirty stuff and eat carbohydrates and then complain about it, that kind of thing.
Jamie: I think it also totally functions as a date movie, because men, as we’ve seen especially in Washington, D.C. where the response was so amazing and people were so enthusiastic, I think men would rather see a movie about phone sex than Bride Wars.