Critics' Corner


Desson Howe - Weekend section, "A mundane, flat comedy."

Rita Kempley - Style section,
"Little more than a profane litany punctuated by Oscar-caliber orgasms."


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'Girl 6': Not a Ten

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A struggling actress becomes addicted to her job as a telephone tease in Spike Lee's "Girl 6," a lurid, vaguely drawn dramedy on the allure of aural sex.

Girl 6 (Theresa Randle), a stunning young woman with velvet pipes, is obliged to take up a new line of work after flunking an audition with Quentin Tarantino, who asks her to remove her top. She is subsequently dumped by both her agent (John Turturro) and her acting teacher (tiny but towering Susan Batson.)

Her next stop is a phone sex shop operated by the motherly Lil (Jenifer Lewis), who provides her employees with good salaries and a safe, corporate environment. Girl 6 flourishes in this setting. -- Rita Kempley Rated R


Director: Spike Lee
Cast: Spike Lee; Theresa Randle; Peter Berg; Naomi Campbell; Madonna; Ron Silver; John Turturro; Isaiah Washington; Richard Belzer; Halle Berry; Jenifer Lewis; Debi Mazar; Quentin Tarantino
Running Time: 1 hour, 49 minutes
Filmographies: Spike Lee ; Madonna ; John Turturro ; Halle Berry ; Quentin Tarantino ;
Debi Mazar






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Lee's Got ‘Girl’ Trouble

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 22, 1996

Spike Lee has often lamented that there's too much pressure on him to perform as a black filmmaker, that he always has to be better than everyone else just to get grudging respect. Well, his worries are over. "Girl 6" is such a mundane, flat comedy, it's enough to reduce expectations over him forever.

This movie has flashes of the Old Spike—at least the one who scored with "She's Gotta Have It" and "Do the Right Thing"—but they're nothing but flinty sparks. A sorta girl-power comedy written by playwright Suzan-Lori Parks, "Girl 6" never really develops.

When we meet Judy (Theresa Randle), she's auditioning for a Quentin Tarantino film. Tarantino, playing himself (I think I speak for many when I say: Enough of this QT chic already!), tells her to take off her blouse. She refuses at first, then slips it off reluctantly. But then she leaves in disgust. (Make up your mind, girl!) She isn't going to make it big this way, she vows.

But her desperate need for money and acting experience drive her to take a job as a phone-sex operator. She takes to it like a duck to water. At the end of her first phone call, when she makes the caller moan with pleasure, her jaded colleagues congregate at her desk, applaud vociferously and give her a bouquet.

Judy's madam-like boss (Jenifer Lewis) congratulates her on losing her phone-sex virginity.

Judy becomes Girl 6, capable of entertaining any dirty old man's fantasy, whether it's as "Lovely Brown," the girl next door; or "April" the dominatrix; or "Esmerelda" the cross-dresser.

While Judy's getting lost in her fantasy world, her neighbor-friend Jimmy (Lee) and her still-smitten ex-husband (Isaiah Washington) wait for her to come to her senses. Why does Judy get so lost in this world? After all, she's a wholesome person when she's around Jimmy. Apparently, she was just born to play characters, including a naughty "housewife" who breathes "I'm making slow, soapy circles on the linoleum" into the telephone.

Judy is never "explained" or even fleshed out. She sells out, she continues to sell out, the movie ends; that's it. "Girl 6" is a half-idea (to be generous) in search of a movie, accompanied by a bunch of uninspired cameos (including Madonna, Halle Berry and John Turturro) and pointless side stories. There's caller Bob (Peter Berg), who spends most of his phone time with Judy talking about his stricken mother, and who wants to meet Judy in the flesh. There's a sick, angry caller (whose face we never quite see), who tracks down Judy's real address. There's an extended news story about an 8-year-old girl who falls down an elevator shaft.

What significant things come from any of these subplots? Nothing, sweet nothing. And Jimmy and her ex-husband merely twiddle their thumbs to the very end. If there's anything worth enjoying here, it's the soundtrack, which features old Prince songs. (Or is that songs by the Artist Then Known as Prince?) It's good to have "Raspberry Beret," "Time" and other great tunes to keep your feet tapping. But then, who needs to watch "Girl 6" to do that?

GIRL 6 (R) — Contains nudity and profanity.

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‘Girl 6’: Sorry, Wrong Number

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 22, 1996

A struggling actress becomes addicted to her job as a telephone tease in Spike Lee's "Girl 6," a lurid, vaguely drawn dramedy on the allure of aural sex. Sans emotional depth or narrative drive, Lee's latest flick is little more than a profane litany punctuated by Oscar-caliber orgasms.

Girl 6 (Theresa Randle), a stunning young woman with velvet pipes, is obliged to take up a new line of work after flunking an audition with Quentin Tarantino, who asks her to remove her top. She is subsequently dumped by both her agent (John Turturro) and her acting teacher (tiny but towering Susan Batson), who advises her to grow up, to disrobe, to "drop into the pain!"

Her next stop is a phone sex shop operated by the motherly Lil (Jenifer Lewis), who provides her employees with good salaries and a safe, corporate environment. If it weren't for all the moaning and gasping, they might be selling insurance policies.

Girl 6 flourishes in this setting, where she is encouraged to use her acting skills to enhance her client's gratification. The rewards are more than monetary for the heroine, who becomes increasingly absorbed by the demands of her new work. Her colleagues become concerned, as does her amusing neighbor Jimmy (Spike Lee) and her ex-husband (Isaiah Washington). Lil finally pulls the plug—or so she thinks—by forcing Girl 6 to take a vacation, but she only descends further into the nether regions of tele-sex (where Madonna cameos as a slatternly madam).

The screenplay by Obie Award winner Suzan-Lori Parks evokes memories of Lee's first film, "She's Gotta Have It." Though the heroine performs Nola Darling's opening monologue in her auditions for Tarantino and a second director (Ron Silver), Girl 6 is only a Nola wannabe—an emotional embryo all too easily seduced by her own and other people's fantasies.

Try though she might, the radiant Randle can't make a connection with this enigmaticprotagonist. Like the heroine's clientele, the actress reaches out, but she cannot touch anyone.

Girl 6 is rated R for language and nudity.

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