DIAL A PRAYER Review
By Staci Layne Wilson
If everyone’s using their cells these days, this movie might have been better-titled as Punch A Prayer or Text A Prayer (in fact, I’m sure there’s an app for that).
It’s set in present time, but Dial A Prayer, starring Brittany Snow as Cora – an unwilling mini-messiah – has a timeless feel to it. The story could take place anytime, anywhere. That’s what’s reassuring about it, and what makes it accessible to a wide audience regardless of faith or denomination. It’s just a good, solid story about redemption, plain and simple.
Cora is a disenchanted and disaffected young woman who has been sentenced to community service after having done a very bad thing. Since this no-no had religious implications, the punishment fits the crime when she’s made to answer phones at a Prayer Call Center under the intent eye of its devout leader Bill (William H. Macy). She struggles at first, referring constantly to her notes and binders full of psalms. Her tone is flat and uncaring. She’s just doing her time, and watching the clock. As soon as she’s off work, she lights up in her car then heads straight for the liquor store.
But when her prayers start making a difference, and one rather good looking caller (Chase, played by Tom Lipinski) shows up at her work convinced he’s been saved by her voice, she gets nervous – and starts to (maybe) believe she can do good. With the discovery of her newfound gift, Cora works to reconcile her troubled past as she grapples with the faith that others have begun to show in her. Is she worthy? Can she actually make a positive difference?
Writer-director Maggie Kiley has done a good job with an interesting screenplay and an able cast, but as a director she falls short. The look of the film is more like a dated TV movie than cinema. Even if Dial A Prayer was never going to be shown on the big screen, one must think “inside the box” for VOD these days. Episodic TV series currently made for the small screen are shot and edited with so much more panache than this film. Its overall visual dreariness and lack of style made the running time seem a lot longer than it actually was.
Regardless, I recommend Dial A Prayer for its actors – Snow is well-cast, Macy is of course golden in every single thing he does, and the supporting cast is likeable – and a story that’s got a good message yet is not overly preachy in delivering it. The movie is in limited theatrical release April 10 then goes to DVD on May 25, 2015.
1 Hour 37 Minutes
Get times and tickets at Fandango.com
DIAL A PRAYER Review