Charlie's Angels (2000) / Action-Comedy
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for action violence, innuendo and some sensuality/nudity
Running Time: 98 min.
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Bill Murray, Tim Curry
Screenplay: Ryan Rowe, Ed Solomon, John August
Review published November 7, 2000
Continuing a trend for the year 2000, Charlie's Angels introduces yet another big screen adaptation of a small screen television show. The TV series, known more for it's stars and cheesy 70s style than for being particularly good, has been upgraded to the point where only the bare minimum essential elements remain: three good-looking and skillful women, their boss Bosley (Murray, Rushmore), and Charlie (voiced by John Forsythe, Scrooged), the owner of the private investigation outfit they all work for. Outside of this, Charlie's Angels is a mish-mash campy spoof on many action films of late, with huge stylistic doses of The Matrix, True Lies, and MI:2.
The plot, of which most scenes have nothing to do with, deals with some stolen voice-recognition software and the kidnapping of its creator. The Angels are sent to infiltrate a rival company to confirm the misdeeds, but there is more to the case that meets the eye, and soon they find themselves the target.
Charlie's Angels is chock full of ambitiousness and style, but is severely lacking in the area of sense or story development. While the actors look like they are having fun being irreverent, this kind of campy tone only lasts so long before it becomes tedious, and unfortunately tedium sets in early. About an hour into the film, I began to realize that only two scenes even vaguely dealt with the main plot, with many scenes totally unnecessary even if they are somewhat amusing. The film does get to the point eventually, but the plot is so poorly conceived and developed I began to wish the film had never gotten around to it at all.
The three stars do have an appeal in terms of fun, but none of them are as "hot" for today's audience as Farrah Fawcett was in the 70s, or as sophisticated as Jacqueline Smith. Instead, all three are portrayed as (paradoxically) airheads who are geniuses when the case calls for it, with slim physiques that have the strength of ten men.
Charlie's Angels is directed by first-timer Joseph McGinty Nichol, or "McG" (We Are Marshall, Terminator Salvation) as he is credited, and it's another case of a newbie director subjecting upon us directorial masturbation from beginning to end, displaying flashy camerawork in place of setting up actual drama for excitement. There isn't a scene, costume, set or actor that isn't chosen for it's aesthetic qualities rather than for their plot necessity or development of character.
Charlie's Angels maintains a wafer-thin depth throughout, with all the consistency of cotton candy. There's lots of explosions, heaps of T & A, cool clothing and over-the-top fighting, but it's all nothing more than eye-candy for the duration. The big screen Charlie's Angels isn't so much for fans of the original TV series as for your a new audience who are probably unfamiliar, the 13-17 year old crowd that loves dumb fun and things blowing up. Though not without merits, it's still a bad film that is strictly recommended for those who films featuring well-developed actresses than a well-developed script.
-- Followed by Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003)
©2000 Vince Leo