Shot in the Detroit area, DIAL A PRAYER, written and directed by Maggie Kiley, is a dramaedy focusing on troubled 20 something Cora (Brittany Snow), who has recently been court ordered to answer calls at a church run outfit called Dial A Prayer, after she set fire to their church while stoned. Cora also has to deal with her absence, but judging well-connected lawyer father, and her depressed mother (Glenne Headly). Needless to say, she’s had better days.
Run by a Michael Scott type preacher (William H. Macy), the prayer answering services is a collection for synergy and corpo speak, complete with step by step directions on how to pray for anything from sickness to doing well on a test. Callers can even purchase spiritual upgrades! The Dial A Prayer staff is a playground of quirky and fun characters, whom plays Felix to Cora’s Oscar. Faced with going to jail if she quits Cora attempts to fit in, resulting in varied results.
Eventually, Cora’s natural and upfront demeanor win over the troubled callers. Soon’s she’s the office “rock star” and patrons ask for her by name. One helped caller is so moved, he corners Cora while out on a smoke break. The gentle stranger, convinces Cora he means her no harm, that’s he only wants to meet the women who talked him off the ledge. In one of the few predictable moments in very well written narrative, Cora and the earnest stranger begin to bond over their difficulties. Where the relationship goes from there though is fresh and welcome.
Well crafted, Dial A Prayer, is a very accessible and enjoyable experience. Despite taking on somber messages, there is enough humility to keep it from the brink. Snow’s performance again reminds us, she’s more than a pretty face. The girl has serious chops! Supported by an impressive and talent group of actors like Snow, Macy, and Headly adds a brighter radiance to Kiley’s words and solid direction. Not to mention, the backdrop of metro Detroit and Michigan’s countryside lend a weight of authenticity lacking in many Hollywood films.
Dial A Prayer is never preachy, leaving it’s overall message up for interpretation. Cora comes to believe in something, something bigger than herself…what that is, you have to decide. What I decided? Is that Dial A Prayer is a film worth watching.[signoff predefined=”Duff Sign Off ” icon=”thumbs-up”][/signoff]