Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle

Reviewed By wintermute
Posted 07/08/03 01:25:40

"The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition of movies"
3 stars (Average)

I have often thought that, given an unlimited amount of money, McG would be able to conceive, execute and film some of the most eye-catching stunts in the history of cinema. Unfortunately, Hollywood has realized that such a film would probably most resemble the disjointed dreams of a schizophrenic, with a complete absence of narrative or structure. What led them to these conclusions? Films like Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle

Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed this film. It's always fun to spot the bright colours, whirling cameras and unnecessary slow motion that have become staples of McG's 'hipster' film making. You get the impression that he is the embodiment of Hugh Grant's character in About a Boy: someone who could tell you what cross trainers to buy, or what cd's are cool, but other than that, unable to offer any advice regarding the emotional or spiritual plane of human existence. McG's characters smile when they are happy and cry when they are sad, and at the end, there is a big group hug and everything is ok. Strip away the violence, loud music and skimpy clothing and in essence what we have here is an extended children's tv program, without the moral or safety lesson.

But is this a bad thing? Is it written in some rule book on some dusty shelf that all films must contain an elaborate subtext wherein the 'auteur' crams as much meaningful social, spiritual or political commentary as possible? Must we see a fully developed character arc? Is there no room for ass jokes in our modern multiplexes?

McG is certainly an auteur, but he is painting with a different brush. His characters are defined in short introductory vignettes and never deviate more than a few feet from their pre-destined path - the cheerful Angel is bubbly and airheaded, the sultry Angel is man hungry and sentimental, and the icey Angel is intellectual and detached. That's just how it is, and if you want to see a film where the cheerful Angel becomes self aware and the intellectual Angel learns to love, then write it and film it yourself. If you want to see a film where some detective chicks get to try on a lot of different costumes and blow stuff up, then you are in the right place.

McG excels at constructing elaborate set pieces and letting his characters lose to play in them. His ability to instantly set the tone of a scene, though suggestive colour, quick camera shots delineating the most important aspects of the new environment, and music allows him to corral his audience and tie them to his hyperactive point of view. Yes, his Angels get to change costumes more often than I shower in a given week, but every feather boa and leather pantsuit is another brick in the complicated architecture of McG's personal style, and every explosion is merely the exclamation point at the end of his sentence.

A note, however, on the most noticeable casting choice in the film. Bernie Mac is clearly out of his element. Whereas Bill Murray, one of the funniest beings born of a human mother, was more than capable of adapting his free-form funniness to the wacky antics of his Angel flock, Mac stutters and stumbles his way through his lines and is so self conscious I honestly thought he himself was going to yell 'cut' at any time. This is unfortunate, since he is such a gifted comedian. But if Robin Williams has taught us anything, it's that you've got to pick your roles.

McG should seriously consider branching out into travel documentaries. His incendiary colour choice and fast paced editing style could make even the state of Nebraska seem deadly, dangerous and exciting. And no one would complain if Nebraska had no plot.

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