Theresa Randle, Isaiah Washington
Spike Lee is doodling in this exuberant but sketchy mishmash about an aspiring actress (Randle) who gets emotionally caught up in her job as a phone-sex worker. It feels like a work in progress, with neither the scope nor ambition of such earlier Lee efforts as 1992’s Malcolm X and last year’s Clockers.
As Randle rummages about in her life, we see her struggling to make ends meet, attempting to cut ties to her ex-husband (Washington) and, as Girl 6, spinning elaborate sexual scenarios on the job with men she’ll never see. The comedy works best in the overheard sicko dialogue with the phone Johns (“I love it when you put me in the stirrups and examine me with your speculum,” a coworker purrs—one of the few printable examples) and when Randle, looking for black actress role models where she can find them, fantasizes that she’s Pam Grier as Foxy Brown or the flibbertigibbet teenage Thelma from the ’70s sitcom Good Times.
Randle, after being asked to provide mere decorative posturing in Beverly Hills Cop III and Bad Boys, bites into this role as if it were filet mignon. It’s not, but she sure signals that she is up to meatier parts. Madonna, John Turturro, Richard Belzer, Ron Silver, Quentin Tarantino (who’s his usual awful), Chicago Hope’s Peter Berg, Halle Berry and Naomi Campbell all pop up in cameos, suggesting that whoever blew by the set was hustled into makeup and pushed in front of a camera. (R)