Double Dare

on September 12, 2004 by Jordan Reed
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Not that we needed another example of the disparities between men and women in Hollywood (or anywhere else, for that matter), but "Double Dare," Amanda Micheli's latest girl-power documentary, brings to light yet another plight of the fairer sex in the film industry, spotlighting the field of stunt work.

As she did in 1996's "Just for the Ride," an account of two women in the rodeo circuit, Micheli opts to present two protagonists. Jeannie Epper, a grandmother and member of a virtual stuntperson dynasty (four generations of her family have been in the field) represents the old guard who acted as pioneers for their gender. Epper made a name for herself as Lynda Carter's gutsier half on "Wonder Woman" in the 1970s, but is having less luck landing jobs in her 60s. Meanwhile, a teenaged Zoe Bell snagged a prime gig standing in for Lucy Lawless on "Xena: Warrior Princess," and has moved from New Zealand to Los Angeles to find more work. The women form a mother-daughter bond, and as the docu progresses, Bell lands a prime gig working as Uma Thurman's double on Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill."

While the stakes for either woman never seem all that great, and more history of stunt work and women's roles in it in general could have added some needed heft (Micheli provides scant archival images and even fewer tasty tidbits, such as the fact that men used to dress in drag to perform stunts for female actors), "Double Dare" remains an entertaining and informative look at a little-known struggle for equality and respect in a physically unforgiving but completely vital Hollywood discipline. Directed by Amanda Micheli. Produced by Karen Johnson and Danielle Renfrew. A Balcony release. Documentary. Unrated. Running time: 81 min

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