After that awful “Mod Squad” movie, people were dreading this one. A first-time director from the land of music videos didn’t help much either, especially when he goes by one three-letter name, with two of those letters capitalized. Another red flag came with the script, which seemed to require the services of every screenwriter in town who hadn’t worked on “The Flintstones” movie. The first trailer was pretty bad, too.
Of course, now that “Charlie’s Angels” is finally here, helmer McG (real name: Joseph McGinty Mitchell) should be proud. Yeah, it kind of looks like a music video, but here it actually works. Visually, there’s a real retro-1970’s meets “The Matrix” style. That actually works too.
The story doesn’t turn out to be all that complex, either. We first meet the Angels in the middle of a mission. After that is a hilarious update of the original show’s title sequence that flashes back to the girls’ adolescence. (At this point it’s as much Spice Girls as “Charlie’s Angels.”) We first meet Natalie (Cameron Diaz), the geeky one. Then there’s Alex (Lucy Liu), the posh one. Then there’s Dylan (Drew Barrymore) who seems to be Scary Spice. These three angels work for the Townsend Detective Agency for their never seen, only heard boss, Charlie (John Forsythe). The girls mostly interface with Charlie’s goofy underling, Bosley (Bill Murray).
The Angels’ new mission seems straightforward enough: Rescue Knox (Sam Rockwell), the creator of some revolutionary new voice-recognition software. The immediate suspect is rival Roger Corwin (Tim Curry), but the real enemy and the real scheme only reveal themselves following some rather difficult life lessons.
Now, “Charlie’s Angels” actually turns out to be the most fun movie of the year. Why is that? One reason is that McG and company never allow the film to bog down. Around Hollywood, many have snidely referred to the film as “Charlie’s Matrix”, as the girls employ martial arts in the place of guns, as per the desire of producer Barrymore. Hell, there’s even one “bullet-time” sequence. If anything, there’s actually more Kung Fu in this film. As a matter of fact, the movie bears a closer relationship to director Ringo Lam’s classic “Full Contact”, one of the best action films ever to come out of Hong Kong. Sometimes there’s so much action that the plot isn’t allowed to get in its way.
Of course the action isn’t the only thing that keeps moving. The “jiggle” factor is in abundance, including a great deal of suggested nudity. Hell, Cameron Diaz’ a*s is so prominent it should get its own credit. The sequence where she’s dancing at home in a pair of Spider-Man underoos (as soon in newer trailers) seems to fulfill sexual fantasies I didn’t even know I had.
What really earns this film some bonus stars is the supporting cast. Mostly unseen in advertisements, we get some amazing actors at their unhinged best. Kelly Lynch, now past 40, is just as beautiful and tougher that she’s ever been. In “Safe Men”, “Galaxy Quest”, and “The Green Mile” Sam Rockwell has proven to be an amazing and scene-stealing presence. But isn’t Rockwell just the late-1990’s answer the 1980’s weirdest and most beloved actors? That of course, would be Crispin Glover.
Yep, he’s here. The audience broke out into applause when they realized a certain character was actually him. I think any production that hires him should get at least two stars. Three stars, if he gets to do a lot of Kung Fu, like he gets to do here.
Hey, don’t come looking for “The Seventh Seal”. “Charlie’s Angels” won’t bring you enlightenment, but it will bring you plenty of entertainment. It’s such a damn good action film that it makes you realize how much the James Bond films have started to suck. I would be very surprised if it’s not one of the biggest films of the year. All the studios have to do is give the people what they want, and what they want are cute chicks in leather, a thumpin’ rock n’ roll soundtrack and Crispin Glover in amazing Kung Fu action. S**t, I’ll pay to go see it again. How many movies will a critic say that about?
“Charlie’s Angels” gets three and a half stars, but here’s my breakdown:
* * * * FOUR STARS: if alcohol is involved.
* * * THREE STARS: if you’re a hard-a*s about little things like narrative.