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Charlie's Angels

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Charlie's Angels

Starring: Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz
Director: Joseph Nichol
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 93 Minutes
Release Date: November 2000
Genres: Action, Comedy

*Also starring: Lucy Liu, John Forsythe, Bill Murray, Tim Curry, Crispin Glover, Tom Green, L.L. Cool J, Matt LeBlanc

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Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

They're back! Those three fearsome crime fighters who work for anonymous millionaire Charlie Townsend (voice of John Forsythe), a.k.a. Charlie's Angels, are back in their big screen debut. Perfectly cast with Cameron Diaz as Natalie, Drew Barrymore as Dylan, Lucy Liu as Alex, and Bill Murray as Charlie's faithful lieutenant, Bosley, the movie takes us on a high-energy ride that is pure campy fun.

In his feature film debut, music video director McG doesn't have a clue as to how to tell a story, and all of the writers attached to the project, which include, but are probably not limited to, Ryan Rowe, Ed Solomon and John August, are not much help. But this is a film in which you just kick back and enjoy some high kicking gals wallop everything in sight. Borrowing liberally from many other films, CHARLIE'S ANGELS steals the most from THE MATRIX. In fact, it probably has more slow motion martial arts action than will be in all three MATRIX pictures combined. Cheung-Yan Yuen deserves a special mention for his supervising of the film's over-the-top martial arts special effects. Even if a bit repetitive, they are the second best part of the movie.

What really makes the show shine are the three female leads, who are convincingly tough, smart and, most of all, funny. The actresses appear to be having a ball, and we vicariously share in their romp. (Yes, there were reports of tension on the set, but the movie shows none of these rumored difficulties.)

As in the James Bond movies, sexual innuendo and humorously revealing costumes provide much of the story's merriment. "Hey, I signed those release papers, so you can just stick things in my slot," Natalie, with an exuberant and sweetly innocent smile, tells her UPS delivery man. Later, in one of the film's best sequences, she cheerfully talks to her would-be boyfriend, a bartender named Pete (Luke Wilson), on her cell phone while fighting for her life. He offers to call her back, but he remains clueless as to his intended love's real occupation.

All of the boyfriends serve as straight men to showcase the women's their comedic skills. Matt LeBlanc plays an actor on a set, and Alex comes on location to cook for him. A truly awful cook, Alex's worst specialty is her "Chinese Fighter Muffins," which can be deadly.

The weirdest and least successful of the boyfriends is played by Tom Green, who was hilarious in ROAD TRIP. This time he is an out-to-lunch fisherman who refers to himself as The Chad and drives his boat like a little old lady.

The movie gets a lot of comedic mileage from Joseph G. Aulisi's costumes alone. The angels go from German yodelers in short skirts to massage parlor geishas. The best, however, has Alex dressed like a dominatrix and the other two dressed in drag. In the latter outfit, Alex is an efficiency expert from Hell, who comes to a software company to lecture a room full of nerdy engineers dressed in geeky white shirts. As she pounds the table with her black riding stick, row after row of software programmers jump straight up in the air in a scene reminiscent of PINK FLOYD THE WALL.

Our 3 action heroes are not above providing each other a lot of girlish advice such as "flip your hair" to attract the opposite sex. It works, by the way, but I suspect that having Cameron Diaz's face is the real key to its success.

So is there a story? Yes, but it is so inconsequential and contrived that there's little point in discussing it. This much I will reveal. The producers clearly think, correctly, that the movie will make a bundle so they've made sure that they end it in such a way as to make a sequel possible. All we have to do is ask by buying lots of tickets. My guess is that we will. CHARLIE'S ANGELS is far from a great movie, but it is entertaining and fun, which is more than I can say about most recent movies.

CHARLIE'S ANGELS runs 1:33. It is rated PG-13 for action violence, innuendo and some sensuality and would be acceptable for kids around 11 and older.

My son Jeffrey, age 11, said that he really liked it and gave ***. He mentioned how much it borrowed from THE MATRIX. Overall, he liked the martial arts but wished that it would have had a little more story. (Don't we all.)

Copyright 2000 Steve Rhodes

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