A companion piece to Ruth Leitman’s recent Lipstick and Dynamite, Amanda Micheli’s Double Dare also sheds light on heretofore-unsung women toiling away in a male-dominated segment of the entertainment industry. Rather than female wrestlers, Micheli’s documentary concerns Hollywood stuntwomen, and focuses on two pros at opposite points in their careers. Jeannie Epper, 64 and still going strong, is a legend descended from a long line of esteemed stunt people, and her résumé includes countless stints on both television (most notably as Lynda Carter’s stand-in on Wonder Woman) and film (her most recent project being 2 Fast 2 Furious). On the other side of the age spectrum, Zoe Bell, a New Zealand native whose first gig was doubling Lucy Lawless on Xena: Warrior Princess, is a newcomer trying, with Epper’s guidance and training, to break into the movie biz. Micheli’s pleasant film tracks both women as they attempt to sustain themselves in a line of action-oriented work traditionally starring (and thus handled by) men, capturing Epper’s job-seeking cold calls to producers and Bell’s nerve-wracking audition for Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill saga. While Double Dare fills out its fly-on-the-wall material with interesting anecdotes from talking heads (including Steven Spielberg, Tarantino, Carter, Lawless, and various friends, family members, and colleagues), what’s lacking is some historical perspective on the past (and evolving) role of women in the stunt profession. The film depicts Epper and Bell as eager members of a marginalized sisterhood that struggles for recognition and respect, but without a context within which to place their stories, Bell’s eventual entry into big-budget blockbusters, as well as Epper’s continued ability to procure injury-prone jobs, is sapped of any larger significance. Still, taken on its own extremely modest terms, Double Dare—full of humorous archival and behind-the-scenes footage of its two tough gals sacrificing life and limb for dangerous car rolls and high jumps—exudes a pleasant, affectionate warmth for its characters, especially during a clip from “Good Morning America” (italics?) that reveals the altruistic Epper’s decision to donate her kidney, career consequences be damned, to actor and good friend Ken Howard.
- Runaway Films
- 81 min
- Amanda Micheli
- Jeannie Epper, Zoe Bell, Lynda Carter, Lucy Lawless, Eurlyne Epper, Ken Howard, Terry Leonard, Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg
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