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1 item from 2000

Film Review: 'Charlie's Angels'

30 October 2000 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

The "jiggle" factor in the late-1970s television show "Charlie's Angels" has, in this film version, been turned into an all-out

derriere-swaying, belly-shaking, hair-tossing, leg-kicking, breast-heaving Glam Follies. For Charlie's amorous Angels slip in and out of costumes as swiftly as they leap out of airplanes, dive off boats, jump into cars and fall out of a hillside house.

Built for speed and elaborate peekaboo games with female flesh, this "Angels" starring glamour queens Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu will probably be derided by critics even more than the old TV show. But undemanding date-night audiences might respond to this ultimate chick action flick. And the good-natured humor of its three stars, who appear to be having a gas playing these ridiculous figures, goes a long way in overcoming the bad jokes and even worse plot twists in this James Bond -- or should we say Austin Powered -- riff.

"Angels'" filmmakers -- commercial and video director McG and screenwriters Ryan Rowe, Ed Solomon and John August -- have upped the ante over the TV show at every turn. Where the old Angels went undercover, so to speak -- usually in environments that called for the skimpiest clothing imaginable -- the 2000 versions find themselves disguised as geishas, belly dancers, race-car drivers, massage parlor hostesses and Swiss yodelers in teeny-tiny skirts.

Where the old Angels occasionally mixed it up with a bad guy, the new Angels rumble like Michelle Yeoh (though none possesses Yeoh's lithe athleticism, so much cinematic trickery is called for).

The disposable plot has the disembodied Charlie -- again given voice by John Forsythe over telephone speaker phones -- call in his three elite private investigators and their muddled minder Bosley (Bill Murray in a forgettable role) to solve the kidnapping of technology tycoon Eric Knox (Sam Rockwell). The Angels target Knox's telecommunications rival Roger Corwin (Tim Curry) but remain suspicious of Knox's top exec, Vivian Wood (Kelly Lynch).

Action movie roles get a gender reversal with all the usual kick-ass combat belonging to the ladies, while the male stars are more or less sidelined as onlookers to the battles. The actresses revel in these roles as part sex symbols and part ball-busters. They display sass and verve, but a self-consciousness sometimes intrudes, almost as if they worry about what Gloria Steinem will say.

Diaz is the most carefree here, gliding in and out of costumes with PG-13 rated naughtiness and putting tongue-in-cheek moves on bedazzled males. Liu can pout with the best of them, especially when someone questions her nearly lethal cooking. And Barrymore, one of the film's producers, brings a surfeit of energy and coquetry to her Angel in a series of devilish disguises.

Minor characters often prove very minor indeed. Running gags involving Tom Green and Luke Wilson die for lack of oxygen. And even the villains seem to lack the energy to keep up with these hyperkinetic chicks.

Technical credits are all over the top, clearly deriving more ideas from the James Bond series than the original TV shows. Stunt coordinator Vic Armstrong and senior visual effects supervisor Patrick McClung get the biggest workout because without their toil, "Charlie's Angels" is a short subject.


Columbia Pictures

Leonard Goldberg/Flower Films/Tall Trees

Producers: Leonard Goldberg,

Drew Barrymore, Nancy Juvonen

Director: McG

Screenwriters: Ryan Rowe, Ed Solomon,

John August

Executive producers: Betty Thomas,

Jenno Topping, Joseph M. Caracciolo

Director of photography: Russell Carpenter

Production designer: J. Michael Riva

Music: Edward Shearmur

Costume designer: Joseph G. Aulisi

Editors: Wayne Wahrman, Peter Teschner



Natalie: Cameron Diaz

Dylan: Drew Barrymore

Alex: Lucy Liu

Bosley: Bill Murray

Eric Knox: Sam Rockwell

Vivian Wood: Kelly Lynch

Roger Corwin: Tim Curry

Thin Man: Crispin Glover

Running time - 92 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13


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