Poisoner's probes darker side of people,
Directed by Spike Lee.
Starring Theresa Randle, Isaiah Washington, Spike Lee, Debi Mazar, Jenifer Lewis.
Sony Nickelodeon.By David Rodriguez
Associate Arts Editor
Director Spike Lee has never been one to let you forget he's black. He often speaks on race relations, and his movies often overdose on this high sensitivity to black issues. This problem was most obvious in Jungle Fever, a story about a black man dating a white woman and the problems that went along with it. Wesley Snipes spends so much time posturing that he never develops a personality. When he marches into his white boss's office to quit because he is not given enough respect, it seems horribly contrived.
Lee's tendency for putting the message over the story seems to be fading. In his latest movie, Girl 6, race is no longer the focus and seems completely incidental. This frees up the story, and gives Lee the opportunity to create genuinely interesting characters. The result is a movie that stays interesting for two hours. The story is about an aspiring actress (Theresa Randle) who takes a job as a phone sex girl, and goes by the name Girl 6. Much of the movie's time is spent listening in on these calls, which are funny because they are absurd, but not surprising. Some of it is pretty graphic, but it never seems vulgar.
What sustains the comedy for two hours is the mood. All the characters know on some level that phone sex is not a job to stay in. Girl 6's neighbor, played by Spike Lee himself, is the most vocal in pointing out that the "phone bone" is keeping her away from real acting. But Girl 6 sees a good side to what she does. She has developed a set of regular callers, including Tucson Bob, who even talks to her about his dying mother.
Girl 6 succeeds because it is well balanced. It is a comedy at heart, and a good one, with material and characters rich enough to prevent it from passing into sitcom territory.