Charlene ‘Charlie’ McGee (Drew Barrymore)
Under different circumstances the McGees probably would have taken over the world. Unfortunately their particular circumstances were not inclined toward that possibility and were instead inclined more in the direction of their suitability as lab rats.
Charlene ‘Charlie’ McGee is a young girl whose tiny wee little body potentially possesses a myriad of psychic abilities, the most blatant, or most developed, being pyrokinesis. It seems poor little Charlie inherited these abilities from her parents after they, some might say foolishly, participated in a clandestine government sponsored experiment whilst in college whereby they allowed themselves to be injected with an undisclosed drug known as ‘Lot Six’ which apparently had the capacity to alter chromosomes and pituitary glands.
Although her parents developed some powers following the ‘Lot Six’ debacle really they were quite embarrassing and probably best not mentioned in comparison to what resides in the little blonde head of Charlie McGee. Charlie is powerfully pyrokinetic, so much so it is remarked that she could eventually be able to create a nuclear explosion from sheer will alone. Oh dear.
As a direct result of her parents’ ill-conceived experimental drug dabbling, li’l Charlie is destined to end up on the run from clandestine government agency The Shop, who are ruthlessly eager to capture the McGees for their own nefarious purposes, Charlie to use as a weapon and Andy to use to gain Charlie’s complicity and to control her.
Growing up can be traumatic enough for the best of us but wee Charlie also has to contend with her own little body continually waging a potentially catastrophic internal war with itself and as if that was bad enough she is also consistently let down by every significant person in her life. She loses her mother and consequently any security she had ever known when forced to abscond with her father and live as a fugitive. Well meaning though he undoubtedly is, Andy is all but incapable of looking after her and struggles to even tangibly protect her from their pursuers, which ultimately leads her to not only being captured but also preyed upon by sinister assassin and potential perv John Rainbird (George C. Scott). Sound parenting there, McGees!
Charlie spends the majority of the film forced to battle her own moral compass, and, indeed, with previously instilled parental values and behavioural codes. As a result of circumstance her own father is obliged to use shield and dagger tactics with her, he is continually by turns drawing her to him and reassuring and comforting her and then pushing her away into solitary and violent conflict. As a result the child has no stable base to operate from; on one hand she’s devastated at the harm she has unintentionally caused others, particularly her own mother in one instance, but on the other, in order to survive she is pressured to use her powers to inflict great harm on those perceived as a threat, and even more significantly she is required to watch that harm.
It is ironic that the situation dictates that Andy, as the father and required protector, needs his powers but can’t use them and Charlie, the vulnerable child, doesn’t want them but has to use them and take on the role her father should be assuming.
As a nuclear disaster waiting to happen, Charlie McGee is definitely a top movie psychic, as a little girl she’s a tragedy in the making, (I'm rapidly going off Andy McGee) and let’s face it things are only going to get worse for her, and probably everyone else, when she finally hits adolescence. So we should all be nice to Charlie and buy her presents because the little mite has had it tough, and she could kill us all.