“Charlie’s Angels”, the feature length re-incarnation of the slightly popular (I suppose, I was never a big fan) of the 1970s TV show, is the kind of film that tests one’s ability to laugh at mediocrity. Which is to say “Charlie’s Angels” lacks any semblance of quality or worth, save for its ability to lunge headfirst into Goofball Parody with glee. Don’t get me wrong, I liked “Charlie’s Angels.” It’s a riotously funny film, even though I suspect the filmmakers were going for a more tongue-in-cheek approach. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your POV), one tends to laugh at the movie rather than laugh with it.
The film follows 3 women, the “angels” of the title, who are (from what I can gather) private, er, private investigators. That is, they’re PI’s, but they only work for one man named Charlie who assigns them, well, assignments. Who Charlie is, or whom he works for, isn’t exactly clear; we hear his voice, but never see his face. In those respects, the film takes its cue directly from the TV show. The movie’s premise (and I use the term loosely) concerns our heroines being hired to retrieve a stolen super-duper device to its rightful owner, but there are double crosses waiting ahead. And as we all know, double crosses always complicate matters.
The main goal of movies such as “Charlie’s Angels” is, first and foremost, to entertain, and “Angels” certainly lives up to the hype. As directed by music video veteran McG (no, I don’t know his real name), the movie is one flamboyant TV commercial for cleavage, skin-tight clothing, and wire-fu. Wire-fu, as many fans of Hong Kong action films know, is the filmmaking technique of using thin, barely visible wires attached to actors to give them the impression of flying or performing gravity-defying feats. “The Matrix” popularized the technique for Western audiences, but Hong Kong films have been doing it forever.
A throwaway plot aside, “Charlie’s Angels” should be sued, and then incarcerated, for multiple grand thefts. The film is chock full of questionable stunts, but the real kicker is the undeniable conclusion that director McG lacks any ability to come up with his own original choreography. Every single stunt in the film, from the opening airplane sequence to the final fights in and around a castle, are copied directly from other, better movies. And this, frankly, is what makes me frown upon “Charlie’s Angels”. If you’re going to steal, at least try to cover up your theft; a little effort goes a long way.
Blatant thefts aside, “Charlie’s Angels” is also memorable for trying to convince us that chunky monkey Drew Barrymore can do other things beside strut around looking like a dumb blonde. (I believe Barrymore has a producer’s credit on the film, which might explain her presence. She is hopelessly out of her class standing next to her co-stars.) The presence of the delightfully risqu’ Cameron Diaz (“The Sweetest Thing”) and tough-as-nails Lucy Liu (“Payback”) elevates the film to a threshold that makes it a guilty pleasure.
It goes without saying that “Charlie’s Angels” is a silly film uninterested in taking anything seriously. It’s mostly fun and the action sequences by the girls as they take on multiple opponents separately and at once are good for, if nothing else, a laugh.
CAST: Cameron Diaz …. Natalie Cook
Drew Barrymore …. Dylan Sanders
Lucy Liu …. Alex Munday
Bill Murray …. John Bosley
Sam Rockwell …. Eric Knox