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Review: Charlie's Angels (2000)

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Steve Kong

Nov 13, 2000, 8:51:22 PM11/13/00
Charlie's Angels (2000)
Review by Steve Kong
The Hard Boiled Movie Guide

I don't remember watching the TV series Charlie's Angels, given that the
show premiered when I was about a year old, I guess that's why. Now,
Charlie's Angels is a big screen movie starring big name stars that I
recognize. How's the movie?

Remember this summer's Mission: Impossible 2? Great film, but it lacked a
sort of fun to it. I loved M:I-2 since John Woo directed it, but the movie
did take itself a little too seriously. Imagine Charlie's Angels as M:I-2
with the seriousness taken out and a lot of fun added in.

Three angels, absolutely gorgeous angels might I add, work for a man
they've never seen, his name is Charlie. These angels, Natalie (Cameron
Diaz), Dylan (Drew Barrymore), and Alex (Lucy Liu), are trained to do
everything. Charlie guides them along via a proxy, Bosley (Bill
Murray). The opening sequence of the film sets the tone for the rest of
the film, it takes place on an airliner and it is explosive.

The plot for Charlie's Angels is quite thin, something to do about a
kidnapping, a satellite, voice recognition, and plain old revenge. But,
that doesn't matter because the film is more about mindless fun and action,
oh and lots of cleavage. And it delivers on all counts of this. Complete
with mind-bending computer enhanced and ever so fake looking martial arts,
explosions, car chases, helicopters, and did I mention explosions,
Charlie's Angels is a summer film trapped in a fall release date.

There's not much I can say about the film. It's mindless and it's
fun. The actresses are great in their roles and all of them savor
it. Diaz steals every scene she's in. Barrymore is wonderful. And Liu is
great. Murray does some great scenes in the movie in which he improvises
and these scenes are laugh out loud funny.

The director, Joseph McGinty Nichol (credited on the film as McG), knows
how to put together a wham-bang film. He uses slow motion well, as if he's
studied John Woo's film with great care. He puts together action sequences
that will satisfy any adrenaline junky. Kudos to McG for putting
together such a fun movie.

Well, like I said before, there is not much I can say about this film but
Don't Miss it. This is a Don't Miss film, catch it in the theatres. It's
nice to have a post-summer adrenaline rush type film like this in late fall.


Chad Polenz

Nov 13, 2000, 8:54:55 PM11/13/00
Charlie's Angels

In effort to describe and analyze "Charlie's Angels" you'll probably see me
make comparisons to a lot of trashy subjects from a Jerry Bruckheimer movie
to "Weekend At Bernie's" and I'm sure the phrase "Did a bunch of kids make
this movie?" will be used. Yes, "Charlie's Angels" the fall 2000 action flick
starring three hot chicks and promising a lot of action is exactly what you'd
expect it to be - mindless as it could be but it's as much fun as you can
have at the movies.

Recently, my friend and fellow film critic Ian Waldron-Mantagi pointed out
something to me that I should have known for years: what makes bad movies bad
is that they're inconsistent. Roger Ebert's basic philosophy of film
criticism (known as "Ebert's Law") is: a film is not what it's about, but how
it is about it. "Charlie's Angels" is the first big budget blockbuster movie
I can think of that plays by these rules and succeeds without even trying.
Yes, the premise is pretty stupid and there's a lot of stuff you could rip it
to shreds over, BUT it is consistent in everything it does. It's a movie that
realizes the only way to pull off this material is to be as campy,
lighthearted and tongue-in-cheek as possible and does just that. You don't
honestly believe FOR A SECOND that we're supposed to take this seriously do

Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu star as Dylan, Natalie and Alex
(respectively) - the sexy private eyes who work for Charles Townsend, a
multi-millionaire who communicates only via speakerphone and has never
actually met his employees. They've got all the cool gadgets just like James
Bond and have "normal" lives outside of work as if they were comic book
superheroes (which they pretty much believe they are). Bill Murray plays
Bosley, their pimp of sorts who mostly just tells them to hurry up while the
Angels do most of the work.

The plot, if you're interested, involves the Angels being hired by a
communications magnate to first rescue the kidnapped CEO, then break into the
rival company's uber-secure headquarters and then to have the tables turned
on them. Ok, if you're mad I spoiled the story don't be, it's really
irrelevant. "Charlie's Angels" the movie is not about story, it's not about
the characters and it's certainly not about theme or anything of any real
artistic value. It's about being wild and crazy and funny without

There's no point for me to breakdown how the screenplay works. You want an
exciting story with chases, fights and explosions and you get those. This is
a PG-13 movie made for the sake of being a PG-13 movie, one might even call
it a family movie. Yes, there's a lot of cleavage and sexiness but it's not
lurid or sleazy. These butt-kicking chicks aren't total bimbos, and they
aren't symbols for feminism either. It's as if they're little kids playing
pretend in the backyard and that's the attitude the screenplay has throughout
the entire movie so that even with the Angels walk into a house and it
explodes or have a thousand bullets shot at them they're able to just pick
themselves up, dust themselves off and continue on as if nothing happened.

This is a chance for Barrymore, Diaz and Liu to try their hand at being
Jackie Chan (without doing their own stunts though). It's a chance for the
producers and director to take a crack at the latest technology and see what
kind of eye candy they can come up with so that even the blatant
copyright-infringement-lawsuit-inspiring rip-offs of "The Matrix" are in such
good humor you just keep laughing instead of rolling your eyes.

Critics who hate this movie say the stars look bored, I say they're just
deadpanning lines which are so unbelievable silly the best actor in the world
couldn't make them seem remotely serious. There's a scene near the end
where's there's a WWF-style orgy of violence going on and in one scene
Barrymore's character is tied to a chair about to get beaten up by about six
guys. She tells them to stop and retreat and tells them what she's going to
do to them. They laugh that such an impossible task could be pulled off in
such in an impossible situation but it does happen. That's when you realize
the movie's a success - so far-fetched, so over-the-top and so cheesy it's
not stupid, it's hilarious.

When "Charlie's Angels" arrives on video I hope they put it with the comedies
not the action movies.


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Michael Dequina

Nov 16, 2000, 8:53:08 PM11/16/00
_Charlie's_Angels_ (PG-13) ** 1/2 (out of ****)

It's easy to dismiss _Charlie's_Angels_ as mindless trash--but to do so
is to not understand the joke. Make no mistake, this big screen revamp
of the small screen "jiggle" action-adventure series _is_ every bit the
slab of cinematic junk food it appears to be; the twist is that director
McG, producer-star Drew Barrymore, and co-stars Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu
set out to make it that way. That said, getting the joke does not
necessarily entail complete enjoyment of the picture, which grows equal
parts fun and frustrating.

_Charlie's_Angels_ is a high-energy production, and it's impossible to
not get occasionally caught up in the infectious atmosphere of
over-the-top action-adventure and self-aware, campy humor. The bouncy
tone is set by the curtain-raising action sequence, which is as
preposterously exciting as any Bond opener; and its terrific main titles,
which are a wonderfully cheesy homage to the original Aaron Spelling TV
series (and the rest of its action ilk in the '70s). Called on to
provide the charm to carry the film the rest of the way are Diaz,
Barrymore, and Liu as Natalie, Dylan, and Alex, respectively--"an elite
crimefighting group" in the employ of the never-seen but always-heard
millionaire Charlie (once again voiced by John Forsythe).

Alas, if only high spirits and the right attitude were enough to make a
feature film. There is the matter of a little thing called a script, and
the one by a reported 17 writers (the only ones receiving screen credit
are Ryan Rowe, Ed Solomon, and John August) feels as cobbled together as
the crew that created it. The Angels, with Charlie's bumbling go-between
Bosley (Bill Murray, sadly wasted) by their side as usual, are hired to
solve the kidnapping of a computer tycoon (Sam Rockwell); its rather
speedy resolution opens up a set of unforeseen problems. That, in a
nutshell, is _Charlie's_Angels_' story.

But it's not what the film is _about_. That designation goes to the
assorted set pieces hung onto the clothesline of plot to either wring
laughs from the audience or viscerally excite them. Given that the three
leads all have experience in comedy and are action neophytes, it's
surprising that _Charlie's_Angels_ is more successful in the latter area.
For this, the trio and especially McG owe a large debt to fight
choreographer Yuen Cheung-Yan (brother of _Matrix_ and
_Crouching_Tiger,_Hidden_Dragon_ action maestro Yuen Woo-Ping). The Hong
Kong brand of wire-enhanced martial arts (a major deviation from the TV
series, for staunch gun opposer Barrymore nixed the use of any firearms
in the film) works especially well in the over-the-top context, and the
stars are all game--in particular Diaz, who is given a large share of
non-wire fight scenes and more than holds her own.

Then again, Diaz is the clear standout in all areas of the film.
Barrymore and Liu clearly enjoy themselves and amply fill the sexiness
requirement, but only Diaz is given much of anything to do. Her Natalie,
a hopeless dork with ridiculous delusions of coolness, is the only Angel
that develops into a real character (all we glean from the others: Alex
is brainy; Dylan is... well, she looks good, doesn't she?). Her comic
scenes, especially those with Luke Wilson (as the requisite love
interest), are the most memorable in the film.

In fact, Diaz's comic scenes are the only ones that fully work, which
points up the film's key problem: not knowing when to stop with the
comedy. Her gags are extreme, but they don't push too far; the same
can't be said for a lot of others. For example, a great sight gag
involving Alex's boyfriend's (Matt LeBlanc) bullet-riddled trailer home
that's just outlandish enough is ruined by a needless extra step. I can
understand McG and the army of scribes' perceived need to go all out, but
a bit of moderation would have gone a longer way in a film that's already
outrageous by basic concept alone.

So with the smiles the film provide come about as many groans,
eventually overtaking the latter as it wears on. The joke behind
_Charlie's_Angels_ is indeed an amusing one, but it simply grows old more
quickly than it should.

©2000 Michael Dequina

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