Charlie's Angels (2000) Nov 14, 2019 15:44:00 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Nov 14, 2019 15:44:00 GMT -5
Charlie's Angels (2000)
Directed by: McG
Directed by: McG
Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu are the Angels in Charlie's Angels.
NOTE: Revisited and re-reviewed in preparation for Elizabeth Banks' Charlie's Angels, to be released on November 15, 2019 in the United States.
I watched and reviewed Charlie's Angels back in 2012. That was when I was a pompous-ass when it came to film criticism, in a way. I gave it a scathing one-star review, and shamelessly tried to sound like Roger Ebert when doing it (not even close, I might add). I can't quite recall the state of mind I was in when I wrote the review; not sure if I was in the mood to trash a film or just overly zealous in cranking out another piece. But I'd like to think I've matured and grown in the last seven years, as I hope we all have, and with another reboot of the popular seventies show due for a release soon, I thought it'd be ideal to revisit a film I truly believe I didn't initially give a fair shake.
Charlie's Angels isn't a good film, but it's not an unacceptable one either. Its immediate challenge is overcoming the famously sleazy and empty-headed convictions of its source material, which was a staple of what I recently discovered was known as "Jiggle television." It was a term to describe programs like Charlie's Angels, Baywatch, and Wonder Woman for their reliance on scantily clad women in loose clothing that showed off enough breasts and butts to be just a few paces away from softcore pornography. There's a reason when we mention these shows in modern times in casual conversation, the discourse usually starts and stops at how beautiful Farrah Fawcett and Nicole Eggert were.
Replacing the original trio of Fawcett, Kate Jackson, and Jaclyn Smith are Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu. The fact that none of the women retain the names any Angel from the show tells you how interchangeable their characters were and reinforces the focal point of Jiggle television. This time around, the Angels are Natalie (Diaz), Dylan (Barrymore), and Alex (Liu), and all three have the common qualities of being tech-savvy, quick on their feet, and unbelievably attractive. All three women work for an unseen boss known only as Charlie (voiced by John Forsythe), who sparingly gives them information. He phones the girls one day to inform them that one of his software programmers (Sam Rockwell) has been kidnapped, with the possibility of Charlie's entire operation and safety being compromised if the Angels don't find him. Such a mission brings the three in touch with unsavory people like Roger (Tim Curry) and "Thin Man" (Crispin Glover) when they infiltrate a lavish party.
The plot is merely a vehicle for a lot of heavily stylized special effects and visual-work, and when I say visual-work, I mean the obvious. There is no shortage of eye candy in the picture, right down to Natalie doing a needless, impromptu dance-number as she leaps out of bed one morning and heads to the door, still in her underwear, to greet a delivery-man (serious inquiry: was Cameron Diaz contractually obligated to shake her white girl ass in every movie in the early 2000s? Far be it from me to complain, but these kinds of questions must be asked).
The undeniable effervescent leads elevate what is ultimately an underwhelming film from a writing standpoint. The girls are acrobatic, defying gravity and what is humanly possible, and it's a saving grace that watching Diaz, Barrymore, and Liu make the most of thin material is, in itself, a fun time. The most glaring problem is the film's bit of identity crisis. Charlie's Angels doesn't seem to know if it wants to lampoon the conventions of the TV series and the era of TnA TV in which it existed, or embrace that trope and ogle the girls at every chance. Material like this is born to be satirized in contemporary times, and besides, even though I'm sure a legion of tight-knit, rabid fans of the original show exist in the present, I doubt there's enough loyalists out there craving a faithful film adaptation of the source material.
McG — in his directorial debut, before going on to do films such as We are Marshall and Terminator Salvation, but not before a sequel to this picture — has a hard time keeping the action particularly clear. His style would become a staple of action cinema of the next two decades, unfortunately, where quick-cuts and frantic editing would define any sort of combat. Consequently, the film stalls during the action sequences largely because there is so much going on, and enough of it unrealistic to the point where I began to get video-game vibes. It's essentially a video game you do not have the luxury of playing yourself.
An assembly of recognizable faces exist in Charlie's Angels, from LL Cool J in a truly stupid but fiercely watchable opening scene, to Melissa McCarthy. My favorite supporting character has to be Tom Green, playing Dylan's sometimes-boyfriend, Chad, who refers to himself in the third person. The first scene he's in takes place on his house-boat just as Dylan is rising and Chad, practically in his birthday suit, is cooking scrambled eggs. Not all of Green's early shock-for-the-sake-of-shock humor is for me, but when he's the icing on the cake, it makes for a sometimes sweet time. It's also quite astonishing to note that in a film with both Bill Murray (playing the Angels' assistant Bosley) and Tom Green starring, Green is the funnier one and it's really not even close.
Charlie's Angels is popcorn fun at its emptiest. Having watched this film about a week before writing the review, I struggle to remember certain scenes, particularly anything involving buildings exploding, punches being thrown, or any kind of combat whatsoever. The banter between the Angels and the random, often unrelated asides were the selling point for me, again because I find the aforementioned trio to be super talented insofar that they can elevate shoddy material. The film isn't an assault on the senses nor a disgrace to cinema. It's mostly just boring.
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Bill Murray, Tom Green, Tim Curry, Crispin Glover, Kelly Lynch, Luke Wilson, LL Cool J, Melissa McCarthy, and John Forsythe. Directed by: McG.