The ugly past of 27-year-old Cora (Brittany Snow) consists of helping set a church on fire and badly hurting a female employee therein. Either part or the whole of her sentence is doing community service at a Christian dial-a-prayer site, and Cora, though remorseful, cynically and sourly hates the place. Then she starts accepting it, as she knows she must.
Maggie Kiley’s Dial a Prayer (2015) is a spiritual, even Christian, picture, a would-be Gimme Shelter, and it isn’t very good. If there is one thing the authorities would not have Cora do for her community service, it’s trying to help tormented people by praying for and counseling them. Moreover, the dial-a-prayer ministry is not quite believable with its cheerleader enthusiasm and after-hours volleyball games in which one young employee wears a bikini.
The film can be amusing and affecting, and it’s fine that Cora receives her epiphanies, but the situation with the nice, placid near-boyfriend she meets is hard to swallow. Dial a Prayer needs a far better script. In the realm of cinematic triumphs, it doesn’t have a prayer.