Charlie's Angels Review
By Joe Lozito
"Charlie's Angels" will absolutely win you over. The way a kitten's purr will win you over. The way the end of "It's a Wonderful Life" or "The Full Monty" will win you over. "Charlie's Angels" looks you straight in the face, smiles from ear-to-ear and dares you not to like it. How is it possible not to like a film in which Drew Barrymore plays the cute, non-threatening but still ass-kicking angel, Lucy Liu plays the cute, technologically brilliant, but still ass-kicking angel, and Cameron Diaz plays the cute, goofy but still ass-kicking angel?
The angels in question, like the 70s TV show on which it is based, are part of an "elite crime-fighting organization backed by an anonymous millionaire." The voice of John Forsythe reprises its role as the faceless Charlie. And he's not the only thing held over from the original series. All the brainless cheese is there too. Except this time, there's millions of dollars worth of special effects behind it, and you have to pay $9.50 to see it. Something about that doesn't work.
It should be no surprise that this film, like so many others recently, was directed by a former music video director. It's more surprising that three writers are credited with putting together a script which has more padding than a WonderBra. Unnamed characters come and go, the film's time sequence is questionable, and none of the scenes last longer than three lines of dialogue (set-up, straight-line, innuendo). The film is the equivalent of the "dumb blonde" of action movies. No plot? No problem. Smile pretty now.
Going solely by the moniker McG, the director underscores each scene with its own soundtrack, and the action sequences are condensed into music video format. It's difficult to tell how one punch leads to another. But it also doesn't matter. The action isn't supposed to make sense. "Charlie's Angels" exists in a reality unto itself, where people stop in mid-air "Matrix"-style and pose for the camera; where it's okay to open the door of an aircraft at 35,000 feet and jump out with criminal in hand, without ever mentioning the fact that all 270 passengers on board were sacrificed in the process; where, when confronted with a pressure-sensitive floor, it's acceptable to do back flips across it rather than simply running.
The cast obviously had a great time making "Angels". Oddly, however, each actor seems to be in a different film. There is no cohesive feeling here. Crispin Glover actually seems to be taking the film seriously, and plays a villain with a real element of menace. But then again, there's Tim Curry on hand to camp up his every scene. Regardless, there's never a moment of tension or threat in the film. It is as predictable as it is cute - and it is very, very cute.
Interestingly enough, the men have the best moments in "Angels". When they're not reduced to drooling morons, Mr. Murray, Luke Wilson(as Ms. Diaz' love interest), and Matt LeBlanc (as Ms. Liu's hapless boyfriend) are given some nice comedic moments.
Of course, the film is blatant in its set-up of a sequel. And why not? This should free up Bill Murray to explore his independent alter-ego, Ms. Barrymore to wed and honeymoon with paramour Tom Green (an annoying addition to the film), Ms. Liu to say she has a blockbuster under her belt, and Ms. Diaz to say again that she can light up the screen the way she did in "The Mask" and "There's something about Mary."
"Charlie's Angels" is a good action movie the way "Mission: Impossible 2" is a good action movie. The plots in these films are actually a hindrance, a stumbling block to be overcome. The actors seem to rush through exposition as if it's taking up too much of their time. Is it too much to ask for an action movie which makes sense, has characters that you care about, and a plot that matters? According to "Charlie's Angels" the answer is an exceedingly perky yes.