Dial a Prayer

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Dial a Prayer Movie Poster Image
Somber meditation on belief, redemption has heavy themes.
  • PG-13
  • 2015
  • 97 minutes

Parents say

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Accepting the consequences of your actions; rebuilding trust; possibility of redemption; forgiveness; doing a job well even when your heart isn't in it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Cora is a troubled 26-year-old who committed a terrible crime of vandalism with a group of other 20-somethings that leads to a woman's severe injuries, and she struggles to accept her actions and how to redeem herself but eventually works toward forgiving herself and others. Her mother is loving but doesn't always see her clearly or strive to understand her. Cora's father is largely absent and tries to solve problems with money. The director of the Dial a Prayer office believes in Cora in spite of her ambivalence about the work they're doing. Many of her coworkers encourage her and look out for her even though it's clear she doesn't want to be there.

Violence

A group of 20-somethings smashes a religious statue with a bat, then a woman lights fire to a church; it's later revealed a woman was badly hurt as a result. A woman hits a pedestrian with car; she is shown flung against the windshield, but no one is hurt.

Sex

Implied sex after a man and woman make out against a hotel room wall and are shown in bed the next morning, the woman wearing the man's shirt. A man and woman grope and kiss on a bed; a couple kisses and gropes at a party; a man describes a woman as a "hottie."

Language

"Wake the f--k up," "bulls--t," "hell," "s--t," "a--hole," "Jesus," "sacrilegious scum."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Two women snort cocaine at a party and rub it on their gums; casual drinking at bars, including a woman stumbling home drunk the next morning; people inebriated at a party; casual cigarette smoking throughout.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dial a Prayer is a dark, provocative film about a troubled young woman doing community work for a crime by working at a prayer call center. The crimes of vandalism and arson are shown through flashback; it's revealed that an innocent woman was badly hurt. Two women snort cocaine, there's casual smoking and drinking, and a scene of a party shows drunk 20-somethings. Sex is implied. Profanity includes "f--k" and assorted other expletives. Though the film is heavily entrenched in religious beliefs and attitudes, it doesn't align itself directly with belief or atheism. There's some light poking at the chirpy earnestness of the prayer call center workers, but the film mostly tells the story of a woman trying to fix her life in the midst of a small-town religious workplace setting and how the experience changes her. Better for teens or older who can handle the lack of a clear message.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 15 years old Written bybiovox14 October 24, 2016

Nah not that great

Ending was miserable, not really a christian movie, didn't enjoy it that much
Teen, 13 years old Written byAinsw December 24, 2017

Pretty Good

It teaches a lesson. And it’s not rly a Christian movie. But it does show that you can be a good person if you rly want to be.

What's the story?

Cora (Brittany Snow) is a troubled 20-something who's working at a prayer call center to fulfill community service for a crime that escalated far beyond her intentions. Now she's surrounded by prayer enthusiasts, including her plucky, determined boss Bill (William H. Macy). Soon she learns her prayers are actually helping people, and she must grapple with her own guilt about her crime and lack of belief among those who now see her as a natural in the prayer mentoring world.

Is it any good?

This is a somber film with complex themes that imparts positive messages without singing to the rooftops about any of them. In part it's about being the odd woman out on religious beliefs, but it neither lampoons religion nor celebrates atheism. Rather, it begins with a woman who could not be less connected to the tenets she's about to have to espouse, and it shows her slowly grow more at ease with them, even if she never quite signs up for membership. Still, it leaves viewers with a sense of the importance of community for everyone, particularly that having faith in people is a good thing, even if that faith isn't traditional religious observance.

Acting from Brittany Snow and William H. Macy are what make this film work, as their characters struggle to reconcile their distinctly different perspectives on life. This isn't a slam dunk for either camp when it comes to religious belief, but for open-minded Christians and fans of indie films without too tidy resolutions, it's a well-acted, provocative look at what it means to redeem yourself and the often uneasy coexistence our deepest personal beliefs can create with our fellow humans.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Dial a Prayer's meditation on redemption. Is Cora redeemed? Why, or why not? 

  • How are believers portrayed in this film? Are they stereotypes or accurate portrayals? Why?

  • What messages does the film offer about belief and its ability to comfort? Do you agree with them?

Movie details

  • In theaters: April 10, 2015
  • On DVD or streaming: May 26, 2015
  • Cast: Brittany Snow, William H. Macy
  • Director: Maggie Kiley
  • Studio: Vertical
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 97 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, brief strong language, some drug use and suggestive material

For kids who love dramas

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