Monday, March 18, 2013

The Call

My friend Danny E. Aviles imagined a production meeting on "The Call": "Okay, Halle, we're really gonna try to make you ugly. Jheri Curl you up, big bags under your eyes, the works." "Yeah, sure, but you know it's not gonna work, right?"

Miss Berry plays Jordan (nice name), a 911 dispatcher in L.A. who, when a girl calls her to report that a prowler has broken into her house and then, thinking he's left, drops the line, makes the fatal mistake of calling her back.

Six guilt-wracked months later, she's transferred from first-response to operator training, leading a group of trainees through "The Hive" in the first of several laugh-out-loud credibility-straining scenes.

During the tour, she steps in to take a call from another pretty blonde teenager. This girl's been abducted from a mall "downtown" (?) and is on a disposable phone in the trunk of the perv's getaway car. Does this incident somehow relate to the girl she lost before? Is the Pope Argentinian?

"The Call" is what we call a High Concept movie. The whole thing can be reduced to a one-sentence treatment (and nobody but Halle makes enough of an impression to mention).

The premise itself is reasonably intriguing, and the movie's rarely less than watchable, but it's silly to the point of risibility, and the belated detour into feminist revenge fantasy in the last five minutes can't make up for the queasy sexploitation of the first ninety.

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