Film

Call + Response

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Musician Dillon abhors modern-day slavery. So much so that he sought to put on a concert to raise awareness. Unfortunately, he couldn’t accomplish that, so he had performers come in to a studio at their convenience and combined that footage with interviews with celebrity activists such as Ashley Judd and Julia Ormond, politicians, reporters and others. The result is Call + Response, a well-meaning but ultimately heavy-going and diffuse mish-mash.

The Details

Call + Response
Two stars
Directed by Justin Dillon
Rated PG-13
Opens Friday, December 5
Beyond the Weekly
Call + Response
IMDb: Call + Response
Rotten Tomatoes: Call + Response

It’s hard to believe anyone wouldn’t be outraged over the facts on slavery as presented here (1 million people are trafficked through the U.S. every year, girls’ hymens are sewn back together for customers who want virgins, ailing child slaves are drowned in Africa to use as bait for fish). Yet there’s no real solution presented. We’re told the cost of setting everyone free is what people spent on Valentine’s Day last year, but where would the money be going? You won’t find out from watching this.

Worse, the songs by artists such as Matisyahu, Five for Fighting, Talib Kweli and others just get in the way. Dillon seems anxious to show music’s connection to slavery, but it just doesn’t work. The majority of the songs have nothing to do with the subject matter, and just make the whole enterprise feel like a soggy version of Idol Gives Back—I kept expecting to see toll-free numbers on the bottom of the screen. Call + Response wasn’t made for entertainment value, so it’s very puzzling why Dillon would even try to insert any.

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Magazine's managing editor, having previously served as associate editor at Las Vegas Weekly, assistant features ...

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