Charlie's Angels
directed by Joseph McGinty Nichol
(Columbia TriStar, 2000)

Even in the throes of adolescence, when the sight of three beautiful women running braless and in slow motion was of major interest, I couldn't muster much enthusiasm for Charlie's Angels. Sure, the angels -- Farah Fawcett, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith, originally, with Cheryl Ladd, Shelley Hack and Tanya Roberts stepping in as the five-year series progressed -- all had supermodel looks, they solved crimes without mussing their makeup and, yeah, they did the braless running thing. But otherwise, it was pretty dull. And, youthful passions aside, those bobbling breasts couldn't bring me back each week from 1976 to 1981.

So, someone decided the new millennium was the right time to bring Charlie's Angels back for a new generation. New angels, of course -- the originals probably aren't up to their old antics and braless bobbling. The replacements -- Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore -- bobble very well, there's no denying that. Much of the film is spent testing the limits of how much they can show without showing anything, and believe me, they show about as much as is possible without losing the vital PG-13 rating.

The Angels film is very different from the TV series. The series involved a lot of straightforward running (braless, mind you) and delicate brawling. The movie is a little more serious with its fights -- James Bond mixed with Jackie Chan mixed with Xena -- and its special effects -- Batman with a very heavy dose of The Matrix. As for the non-action scenes -- think Melrose Place and MTV. (Director Joseph McGinty Nichol, a.k.a. McG, cut his teeth on music videos, so no surprise there.)

The plot, such as it is, involves a kidnapped programmer (Sam Rockwell as Eric Knox), a lovely cohort (Kelly Lynch as Vivian Wood) and a silent but ubiquitous villain's henchman (Crispin Glover as the Thin Man). John Forsythe reprises his decades-old role as the voice of Charlie.

The real delight of this movie is Bill Murray as John Bosley (a role filled by the late David Doyle in the series). His easy humor kept me grinning in every scene he stole. Tim Curry was his usual good self as the nefarious corporate shark Roger Corwin -- but, y'know, it'd be nice to see him play someone other than a scenery-chewing villain for a change. Tom Green's double cameo as Barrymore's beau was just stupid.

I started to talk about the plot and got distracted into talking about the cast. Well, it makes sense, since there are a lot of cast members and not a lot of plot. What plot there is -- well, the less said, the better. The movie begins with the angels saving a plane from a mad bomber while ignoring that the sudden decompression they caused probably sent the plane down anyway. Doesn't matter, though, because the three girls all had a laugh, and Diaz got first dibs on showing some skin. (Don't bother hitting the rewind button, there's plenty more where that came from.)

There's not a lot to recommend this movie. If you're looking for reasons to watch it, be honest and admit your real motive. You, like the many hormonal boys who helped make Charlie's Angels a box-office success, are able to overlook bad scripting and focus on those wildly bobbling breasts.

[ by Tom Knapp ]
Rambles: 14 July 2001

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