Lee's 'Girl' Has Gotta Have It
Girl 6 directed by Spike Lee starring Theresa Randle at Sony Fresh Pond
Spike Lee never makes a boring movie. With arresting neon credits, video clips and Prince's music, even the beginning makes the audience sit up and take notice. "Girl 6" illustrates the changing tides of hope and despair of a woman who is about to fail in her dream of becoming a famous actress. Instead, she focuses all her concentration on the one thing she can control, her job as a phone sex "telecommunicator."
Girl 6 (Theresa Randle), whose name is not revealed until the end of the movie (it's Judy), struggles to pay the bills while trying to make it in the acting world of New York City. Her main problem is that she does not want to take her clothes off, a scruple which is mocked by her agent and her acting teacher. Girl 6's life spirals downward as her numerous odd jobs as a movie extra, a club bartender, and a pamphlet distributor begin to jar her sensibilities. She finally gains a semblance of control in her life when she creates Lovely, her favorite phone sex persona.
But it does not take long for Girl 6's friend, Jimmy (Spike Lee), to recognize that her success in the "phone bone" business only hides her real need to achieve her ambition. While working to build other people's fantasies, her own dreams begin crashing down around her. Even her ex-husband (Isaiah Washington), a kleptomaniac with a penchant for fresh produce, while attracted to her new confidence, is alienated by her increasing obsession with her job.
Although it may seem that "Girl 6" discusses the theme of female sexuality, one cannot help but noticing the lack of actual sex within the movie--only two kisses, one in a fantasy and another at an audition. If anything, "Girl 6" is a sad commentary on male sexuality. One caller, a father, listens to his sadistic domestic fantasy while babysitting his children. A janitor asks for two operators to act out his pedophile tendencies. One caller repeatedly threatens Girl 6's life by telling her that he will suffocate her with a plastic bag. Their pitiful requests for sexual satisfaction are combined with pleas for female submission, while the phone sex operators respond with simulated interest.
Lee succeeds in creating a hilarious and mournful film. His ingenious recreations of famous moments in black film and television, from "Carmen Jones" and "Cleopatra Jones" to "The Jeffersons" and "Good Times," are a glorious tribute, perfectly symbolizing Girl 6's descent into dreams of stardom.
Lee's choice of locations enhances his sense of visual style. The neon-lit lobby corridor, the elevator filled with bright red lights and the rows of seats in primary colors along a downtown New York City sidewalk all complement the fast-paced script. A newspaper shop provides a wonderful locale for Lee to pit Girl 6 against a lecherous store owner.
Theresa Randle, who also starred in "Bad Boys," flexes her acting prowess as she imperonates Dorothy Dandridge, Foxy Brown and Lovely. "Girl 6" will probably launch her career as a serious actress. Her range will amaze audiences. Randle can also be praised for her endurance. Her character changes her outfits and her wigs so often, it's a wonder that Randle didn't collapse from exhaustion.
Supporting Randle is a series of cameos that seems like "Who's Who In Hollywood." Quentin Tarantino appears as a sleazy director with the power to give anyone fame. John Turturro, as Girl 6's agent, screams, "Sharon Stone spread her legs for QT." Madonna, a phone sex boss and strip tease club owner, does what she is wont to do--she talks about sex, "No restrictions, no taboos." Naomi Campbell gets in the act as a pot-smoking phone sex operator who wears tight t-shirts bearing slogans like "Models Suck." Kudos to Spike Lee for donning a 1970s business suit and giving Sherman Helmsley a run for his money as a George Jefferson impersonator.
Girl 6 makes uncomfortable compromises, but she recognizes that to continue to compromise herself would mean sacrificing her dignity. In "Girl 6," Lee encourages viewers to pursue their dreams, but recognizes that the price of success is sometimes just too high.