The new Charlie's Angels leaves no question as to the quality of Drew Barrymore's breasts, Cameron Diaz' legs or Lucy Liu's ass- all of which are grade A- but the movie itself falls short of its potential. Based on the '70s TV show, the movie is a self-referential spoof from the first scene to the last. In the opening scene, an airplane bomber turns to the man next to him (who happens to be LL Cool J) and referring to the in-flight movie says with exasperation, "another movie from an old TV show." Funny, yes, except for the fact that throughout Charlie's Angles I found myself empathizing a bit too much.
Riding the line between Bondian cool and Powers-like self-ridicule, Charlie's Angels turns out to be a less-than-great idea. Constantly amusing but rarely a whole lot more. This is not to say that the movie version is not worthy of any praise- it's worth seeing just for moments like the one when Dylan (Barrymore), seducing a chaffer, licks the steering wheel of his Rolls Royce. But high points like that one were few are far between.
Like the TV show, three babes, Dylan (Barrymore), Natalie (Diaz) and Alex (Liu), are secret agents for mysterious millionaire Charles Townsend. Each flesh-baring lady has her own life-style, her own flavor. But they are brought together by their alliance to Charlie and their constantly ringing Nokia 2600s. Assigned to rescue a kidnapped executive, break into a top security data base and dismantle several bombs at once, the Angels sing in unison. Sounds like fun. And it is.
Fight scenes reminiscent of John Wu in his better days before Mission: Impossible 2, are abundant. A great soundtrack featuring Destiny's Child and plenty of '70s hits is a bonus. The Angels kick ass with style using the ancient and venerated method of cleavage display. When they're not fighting, the Angels are less exciting and a load less capable. Alex can't cook, Natalie walks into a wall and Dylan falls for the wrong guys. So much for my hope that the girls would be as well equipped mentally as they were with semi-automatic weapons.
A rocky production may be partly to blame. Nearly 30 script re-writes, a director named McG (a problem in itself) whose past work was limited to music videos and adds, and rumors of a fight between Liu and Bill Murray (who plays Bolsey) couldn't have helped things. But this is standard fare in Hollywood. Less common is the sort of bond the actresses developed.
Diaz and Barrymore, who conceived the idea for the movie together, have grown particularly close. Of Diaz Barrymore was quoted as saying: "I'll come in and be like, 'I need more lift in my boobs,' and she'll help me. She's a very good boob wrangler." And their friendship is evident in Charlie's Angels. Whatever else is going on, the girls clearly have a great time. So much so in fact, that the end of the movie seems a sort of hasty close to an elaborate dress-up game. On the other hand, what can you expect? The Angels save the day and hit the beach for some R & R. In any case Charlie's Angels is gratifying. You'll get what you came for, just don't expect any more than that.
CHARLIE'S ANGELS directed by McG starring Drew Barrymore Cameron Diaz Lucy Liu Columbia Pictures
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