Perhaps the safest sex of all, er, comes at the end of a telephone (landline or wireless, preferably with “hands free” speaker option). For a few dollars per minute, those craving unaccompanied carnal release can let their fingers do the stroking while a sultry, dirty or demanding (as required) voice talks the unseen customer into eruption (so different, yet with similar techniques, from unwanted telemarketers: cross-reference below). From a business perspective, the longer the call, the greater the profit, so it’s vital to have a skilled operator calling (and delaying…) the shots all the way to the bank.
Meet Katie Steele (Ari Gaynor with a mischievous touch of Barbara Eden—I Dream of Jeannie, indeed—in her look and demeanour). Her trash-talk mouth keeps the phone ringing off the hook and her “menhandlers” hot then delirious until cleanup time. Working as a stringer, she gets a small piece of the corporate cum-pie so, as the film gets under way, faces eviction from her long-gone grandma’s tony digs (alas, rent control has expired).
Also in search of a flat is Lauren Powell (a fairly convincing transformation from bra-on-during-coitus to dildo junkie by Lauren Anne Miller). Current beau/banger Charlie (James Wolk) has opted to abandon his live-in, demur babe in favour of a sojourn to Italy (both for work and time-out play).
After their last extra-missionary coupling, he summarily dismisses Lauren with a one-word criticism: boring.
What are these verging-on-homeless young women to do?
No worries. Gay-comic, girl-about-NYC Jesse (Justin Long readily plays the queer card, most assuredly aided and “apetted” by his diminutive pooch, Zelda—the Carol Channing gag is a particular hoot) re-unites the unlikely pair (their years-past encounter brings a decidedly whole new meaning to the term “pissed off”), setting the stage for a few scenes of catty jibes before Lauren’s business sense and Katie’s once-removed erectile proclivity combine to pecuniary effect as the two women strike out on their own (non-compete agreements being enforced with the rigour of Conrad Black) and corner the phone-fuck/wanker market for all comers. (Some of the funniest moments—for those who don’t thump their Bibles too hard: a quartet of my colleagues dashed off to cleanse themselves far before film’s end—are of the customers’ chatter and ministrations, notably the airline pilot who delays take off before get off: The only thing missing was a cockpit joke.)
Director Jamie Travis (already an accomplished short-form filmmaker, cross-reference below) has an interesting project for his début feature. Translating co-writers Miller’s and Katie Anne Naylon’s saucy script (with Graynor also looking over his shoulder as one of four cheque signers) to the screen must have been no easy task. On the plus side, the exuberant ribaldness will elicit lots of yuks (and a few uncomfortable squirmings for partnered guys who are not averse to the odd phone-jerking session between their regularly scheduled conjugal duties) from those who understand the meaning of “sex comedy.”
Not so effective are the subplots. Lauren’s more-money-than-brains parents (Mimi Rogers, Don McManus) turn up unannounced once too often, straining the modicum of credibility that their first appearances get away with. Regular puddingpuller devotee, Sean (Mark Webber does everything asked of him and more only to endure an extraordinary end-result of his final—now literal—dénouement) is more set dressing than crafted character.
Buried in the narrative weeds are Lauren’s desire to land a dream-career book editor gig, Katie’s fantasy of being one of her roommate’s writers as well as Sean’s filmmaker ambitions. What fun that they momentarily come together in a cheesy, sudsy bathtub sequence.
While, overall, the film is far from boring, the notion that pretending to be aroused rather than hanging up and getting down to the real thing may have many viewers heading to the bedroom instead of dialing 1-900-eat-this (not that that’s a bad thing). JWR