“Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” tries to be bigger and better than the first Charlie’s Angels. It achieves the bigger, but the better is sorely lacking. Where the first Charlie’s Angels had several scenes with silly plot points – like the girls being able to pinpoint Bosley’s location by hearing a rare bird’s song in the background, these devices are used throughout the sequel as if they are commonplace. Even in a bubble-gum action movie like Charlie’s Angels, there needs to be some form of suspension of disbelief.
An example of this comes in the pre-credit sequence. [ATTENTION: SPOILER ALERT!] Natalie (Cameron Diaz), Alex (Lucy Liu) and Dylan (Drew Barrymore) are chased across a bridge in a military transport truck, caught in the crossfire of a tank and a shoulder-propelled rocket. Their only escape it to crash over the side of a bridge and fall towards a rocky death below. Luckily, there’s a helicopter on the back of the truck that they manage to get started and magically jump into it all during the freefall into the rocky river valley below. Apparently not only are Charlie’s Angels experts in martial arts, weaponry, kickboxing and cosmetics. They’re also magnetically attracted to military assault helicopters.
The plot of “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” sees the girls tracking down two rings that have been stolen from government officials. These rings, code-named “Halo,” contain a complete listing of all the members of the witness protection program. There’s also some lame subplots tailored for each girl, including Natalie moving in with her beau Pete (a wasted performance by Luke Wilson) and Alex’s father (another wasted performance by John Cleese) coming to visit her and mistaking her spy job for prostitution. I may be wrong, but that last one was probably already done in a “Three’s Company” episode.
With the exception of reported tensions between Bill Murray and Lucy Liu on the set of the first Charlie’s Angels, the cast and crew got along tremendously. The set of this second film was no different. According to a three-way interview in “Entertainment Weekly,” Diaz, Barrymore and Liu gave the impression that the set of “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” was a big party packed with hot chicks in stilettos.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying yourself on a set. There’s nothing wrong with having fun at work. However, to paraphrase Steven Soderberg, if having fun on a set was an indication of how good the movie will be then “Cannonball Run” would be the greatest movie ever made.
Clearly the stars and top-level crew of “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” had fun. It comes through – to an annoying degree – in almost every scene. There’s a completely unnecessary curtain call at the end of the film with the stars gushing over each other in character, reminiscent of the schmaltzy self-congratulatory ending of Lethal Weapon 4. The center of this attention is Drew Barrymore, whom I’ve always liked and respected. However, I get the feeling that poor Drew is using her on-screen family to compensate for her horrible childhood.
Of course, one of the biggest stories about this movie is the return of Demi Moore to the big screen. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t know Demi Moore plays the bad guy, disgruntled ex-Angel Madison Lee? Every article, every television interview, every paparazzi-filled news story about her and boy-toy Ashton Kutcher refers to Moore’s feature film comeback and how she is the new Charlie’s Angels villain. Why then did McG find it necessary to insult the audience’s intelligence by cleverly obscuring Moore’s face through most of the film. When it is “shockingly” revealed that Madison Lee is the mastermind behind the Halo plot, the scene is shot as if it’s a big surprise. Come on, McG. You can’t tell me that you had no idea how this film was going to be marketed or publicized?
And speaking of McG, he’s well on his way to become the new Michael Bay – a highly visual director making films in which traditional elements like plot, characters and continuity are largely disregarded. While McG was paid a staggering $4 million for his work on “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle,” I doubt he will live as a director. And I pray every night that he isn’t awarded the helm of the perpetually upcoming “Superman” flick. Sure, the guy can cut a great music video. But a 2-hour music video about Superman is a bit much.
One final note on “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle”: The girls look dead. Cameron Diaz needs to eat. Lucy Liu needs to eat, also, but not as much as Diaz. And Demi Moore looks like she’s dying of consumption in the worst way – she’s a skeleton with fake breasts in a bikini. The only girl who looks remotely healthy is Drew Barrymore (probably because she’s a producer on the film and isn’t worried that they’ll fire her if she eats more than a rice cake and applesauce for lunch).