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By Herb Kane | November 27, 2000

CRITIC DOCTOR EXAMINES: Ron Wells (Film, Steve Murray (Cox News Service), Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), Lawrence Toppman (Charlotte Observer), Robert Wilonsky (New Times Los Angeles), A.O. Scott (New York Times).
* * out of 4 stars (PG-13)
In a recent issue of MOVIELINE, I got angry when they didn’t print a photo of Farrah Fawcett’s famous trademark smile along with a story they wrote about her. They printed my concerns because they knew Farrah was the hottest one of 1970’s “Charlie’s Angels.” Now we have a new “Charlie’s Angels” in movie theaters, but do the girls live up to the 70’s cast?
“Charlie’s Angels” is a movie about three hot female private investigators hired to track down a kidnapped computer wiz and to keep his high-tech voice identification software from being stolen. The film is based on the old TV show and comes in the form of a parody.
Ron Wells (Film said, “‘Charlie’s Angels’ actually turns out to be the most fun movie of the year.”
Not quite, Ron. The movie’s action, jiggle factor and the supporting cast are not enough to save the plot. I understand this is a parody, but it simply didn’t work. I generally like parodies, but it would have been much better had they taken the idea more seriously – in the fashion of “Mission Impossible” or “James Bond.” Then we’d have a new smart franchise in Hollywood.
Steve Murray (Cox News Service) adds, “And it’s the funniest pop-culture romp since Austin Powers first pranced down Carnaby Street.”
The difference is, Steve – Austin Powers worked! It didn’t call itself James Bond. It was a parody of films like that. But don’t be surprised if a new movie comes out next year called, “Charlie’s Angels Meets Austin Powers.”
The ironic part is that “Charlie’s Angels” (the 1970’s version) was cheesy already. Why did we need more cheese? If only the creators had gone the big juicy steak route and made a full meal out of this franchise. The stupid plot was so stupid I couldn’t have fun.
Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times) rightly asks, “What is it? A satire? Of what? Of satires, I guess. It makes fun of movies that want to make fun of movies like this. It’s an all-girl series of mindless action scenes.”
Action is not enough to save a film, unless it comes from the director’s mouth and is aimed at a good script. Ok. The action was top notch. In fact, the movie appears to be a smart one in the beginning – featuring a slick stunt jumping from a jet. But then we realize the entire movie is stunt.
Lawrence Toppman (Charlotte Observer) got it right: “You shouldn’t make camp campier. They’ve retained the cleavage, butt-kicking, gadgetry and hair-tossing from the gleefully absurd ’70s TV show, but they’ve exaggerated characters who needed no exaggeration.”
Robert Wilonsky (New Times Los Angeles) adds, “Notice there’s not a single character worth giving a damn about or a single plot point that makes a lick of sense.”
Oh, sure. The movie has its moments. The best one came from Diaz when she jumped on the “Soul Train” stage with that awful dance. But you couldn’t help but love her! When you compare this trio to the original crime fighters on the 70’s show, they are more like Bosley’s devils than Charlie’s Angels. Then again, this is a parody.
Murray said, “Despite dark reports of a ballooning budget, countless script rewrites and the occasional on-set tiff, ‘Charlie’s Angels’ turns out to be a terrific popcorn movie.”
I agree, Steve! But you should be eating the popcorn at home in front of the VCR. If the angels (Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore & Lucy Liu) were given brains, this would have been one cool movie. I still like the original angels better (especially Farrah), but the action will be the main reason to see the new film.
A.O. Scott (New York Times) summed the movie up best: “Unlike so many big-budget action movies, it never pretends that it’s anything more than trashy, cheesy fun. But even trash – especially trash this expensive – should at least be well made. Sure, it’s easy on the eyes, but would a little brains be too much to ask?”
The problem with this two-star movie is that they gave it – little brains.

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