There have been plenty of terrible Romantic Comedies in the last couple of years, but they keep being made because they are great to watch, when done right. Director David H. Steinberg manages to get it right in his first feature film, Miss Dial. Steinberg is known for his screenplays. You are probably familiar with his work, namely two American Pie movies and the National Lampoon’s Barely Legal. The only similarity Miss Dial has to most of Steinberg’s other films is the humor and R rating because of explicit language. Miss Dial, however, has a more mature theme and cast, no nudity, and more diversity and originality.
What do you do when you’re an at home Customer Services Representative and you think your boyfriend's cheating? You start calling random strangers on the job and maybe stumble on a new boyfriend, of course. Well, at least that’s what Erica, played by Robinne Lee (Hitch, Seven Pounds) decides to do in Miss Dial, a fun movie with unexpected twists. One of the biggest differences between Miss Dial and most movies out there is that the lead character is a black actress. As long as there has been movies, black actors have limited options when it comes to the quantity and quality of available roles.
In the Oscars 85 years, most black actors who receive acting nominations play characters who are part of the working class, athletes, singers, and/or are involved in criminal activity. The first black person to win an Oscar for Acting, and anything was Hattie McDaniel for Gone with the Wind. The last actress was Octavia Spencer in The Help. Both actresses played characters who served their white counter parts and won for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. While black male actors seem be getting more opportunities-3 of the total 4 Best Actor in a Leading Role Oscar winners in the last thirteen years- only one black female actress has ever won a Best Actress in a Leading Role (Halley Barry in Monster’s Ball).
When black actresses are given opportunity to play better educated characters, they often lack the complexities of the more common and rewarded roles, and they’re usually not lead characters. This is true whether the director is white or black.
Miss Dial changes this. Erica is an exceptional character because she is an educated and well-spoken woman who is unhappy with her job, her relationship, and is struggling with insecurities that are not obvious in the beginning, but are slowly revealed throughout the movie. She is in an interracial relationship with Alex, a Hispanic character played by Jon Huertas (The Objective, Castle) and starts a new romantic relationship with Kyle, a white character played by Sam Jaeger (Parenthood, Take Me Home). Steinberg has consciously attempted to create a complete and unique black character while never referring to the race of the characters or bringing up any racial issues. Steinberg also manages to reflect society while challenging the audience by showing a part of society that is not properly represented in popular culture.
Anybody looking for a fun romantic comedy will enjoy Miss Dial. There are definitely some predictable moments, but the good outweighs the bad by far, and I give it four out five stars.
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@EstherScreen What a lovely review to find in my inbox! — David H. Steinberg (@DavidHSteinberg) September 21, 2013