Worth A Look: 28.32%
Pretty Bad: 5.75%
Total Crap: 20.35%
14 reviews, 142 user ratings
by Scott Weinberg
Let me get this straight. People are actually BASHING this movie because it's STUPID? Um, call me clueless but I think that may indeed be the whole POINT. Compared to all those other atrocious 'TV-show movies' we've been treated to over the past few years, Charlie's Angels is a truly entertaining breath of fresh air...with tons of great music...and explosions...and wonderful wonderful cleavage.Finally, someone figured out the only real way to make a movie from a cheesy old TV show...laugh at it! To say that Charlie's Angels is one of the best of the TV series-based feature films is perhaps damning this entertaining movie with faint praise. Aside from the witty Brady Bunch Movie and its sequel, and the original Addams Family film, here's what moviegoers have been subjected to recently:
"So stupid, so derivative, so blatantly sexist....SO WHAT?"
The Avengers - Now who was THIS movie supposed to appeal to? The most important demographic (teens, of course) would justifiably have NO interest in the characters, and the adult fans of the old series would be insulted by the sheer stupidity of the screenplay. That, and Sean Connery gives perhaps his most humiliating performance ever. That alone makes this movie unforgivable.
The Mod Squad - Again I ask...WHO would actually PAY to see this movie in a theater? I cannot figure out the intended market of this one, but it is quite simply one of the worst movies of the past ten years. Don't producers realize that lots of people (OK, some) are actually intelligent and can occasionally see that these movies are hollow and transparent facades? There's nothing intelligent in the screenplay, the cast is second-rate, and the ONLY reason this movie ever got a 'green-light' is due to something called Name Recognition. Producers expect that you'll wander mindlessly into the cinema, solely because the words MOD SQUAD are familiar to you.
Sgt. Bilko - Good star (Steve Martin), quality director (Jonathyn Lynn). So what went wrong? You'll be too disinterested to care. While this one isn't nearly as awful as the preceding pair, it's a fairly limp and lazy little comedy.
The Beverly Hillbillies - If I were to tell you that the sitcom is funnier than this movie, would you consider that me being complimentary? This movie is the cinematic equivalent of a clogged toilet. Just atrocious.
Mission: Impossible 1 & 2 - Entertaining in spots, but a bit too dry, wordy and self-important for me. I like my action movies a bit more loose, a la Indiana Jones.
Car 54, Where Are You? - I wont even lower myself to discuss this movie.
So you see what I'm getting at. This time around, the series is Charlie's Angels, a mindless little piece of guns and cleavage fluff that was a huge hit in the mid-70's. And where most TV adaptations are simply content to trot out the old familiar characters, this movie offers all kinds of modern-style mayhem.
Our Angels for the new millenium are Natalie (the ever-vibrant Cameron Diaz), Dylan (the suddenly buxom Drew Barrymore) and Alex (the intense Lucy Liu). Once again, the trio receive their orders by the unseen Charlie and his liaison Bosley (the underused but always welcome Bill Murray). The bare-bones espionage plot very closely resembles the story lines from the earlier series, as if everyone involved knew what the main attraction was; no need to let too much plot get in the way of the dropkicks and the push-up bras.
Their initial mission is to rescue a young software magnate (the wacky Sam Rockwell) and retrieve his secret codes. You know, typical Mission: Impossible/James Bond stuff. The requisite actions scenes and double-crosses are everywhere, but pretty soon you begin to notice something - This movie has a real sense of fun to it. Pretty strange, since Charlie's Angels was reported to be a TOUGH shoot, what with over ten writers getting involved in addition to reported spat between Murray and Liu. Chalk it up to first-time director McG's sense of vision. His stylistic direction single-handedly saves this from being a ponderous retread.
OK, but what about those Angels? In a word - Oh..My..God. Obviously aware of the 'jiggle-factor' that was so important to the original series, our three heroines have set their weapons to STUN! Diaz is the sexiest, especially when she gets funky and breaks out her crazy dance moves. (One of the movie's best scenes features Diaz going "old-school" on Soul Train.) If any modern actress truly lights up the screen, it's Cameron Diaz and her 1000-watt smile.
No less lovely is Drew (yes, still Gertie from E.T.) Barrymore, who seems to have recently discovered the power of her cleavage. As the movie's producer, Drew of course got to have the one true romantic scene in the movie, but she's as earthy and sweet as she always is, even when she's beating the snot out of people.
As the third Angel, Lucy Liu gets to cut loose and play a bit. Her roles in Ally McBeal and Shanghai Noon didn't give her many opportunities to smile, so it's great to see her getting some laughs this time around. A scene of Alex dominating a classroom of computer engineers is priceless.
It's tough to bash any movie that has this sort of tone. Not one scene in the movie is meant to be taken the least bit seriously, and that lack of sincerity is what makes the movie work. The kinetic action scenes are reminiscient of The Matrix and Mission: Impossible, and that's no accident. But while the Mission films are so stately and pseudo-sincere, Charlie's Angels kicks the whole genre on its head, and the three stars seem confident that the audience is in on the joke. It's ironic that a movie as silly as this one would earn such high marks for respecting its audience. I guarantee that this movie could have been another Mod Squad with a different director and stars.
Familiar faces are sprinkled throughout, and while none of them offer anything truly memorable, it's always nice to see people like Tim Curry, Matt LeBlanc, Luke Wlson and Kelly Lynch getting some work. Barrymore's sweetie, Tom Green, shows up for a few scenes and does nothing at all funny. The one standout in the supporting cast is the mysterious Crispin Glover, who steals every scene he's in, yet his character has no dialogue at all!
The action scenes alone make this movie worth seeing. Set to a heart-thumping techno beat, the fights and chases are half John Woo and half Victoria's Secret. While cynics would point to the sheer preposterousness of the whole movie, others would simply sit back and enjoy the ride. Intermittently clever, without being a LOL comedy, Charlie's Angels is repeatedly rescued by the three lead actresses. They seem to be having a ball, and if you're willing to check your brain at the door for a few hours, you'll probably have a great time too.While most of the movies borne from TV shows had no real built-in market, Charlie's Angels should hit paydirt with this combination; the guys like action, karate chops and beautiful women, and the women in the audience are treated to three unapologetic (and ass-kicking) heroines who also have some surprisingly human sides to them as well. Everybody wins...especially all you die-hard cleavage fans out there.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1819&reviewer=128
originally posted: 12/09/00 12:39:24
|TV to Screen: For more in the TV to Screen series, click here.