Charlie’s Angels DVD

What do you call a movie that is a spoof of a television series that was a spoof of a film series that in itself had become a spoof? I don’t care what else you call it, but the big screen version of “Charlie’s Angels” is bad, real bad, and not bad in a good sort of way.


charlies_angels_dvd_coverHere’s a film so dumb and stupid you want to yell. It’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but this is a full- throttle French kiss of bad filmmaking. The jokes are immature and filled with the kind of sexual innuendo that feels like it has been lifted from the last season of “Three’s Company.”

It’s not high concept, it’s no concept. It’s sad to see people like Drew Barrymore (who co-produced the film) and Cameron Diaz in something like this. Either someone had Polaroids of their illicit pony shows in Tijuana or their paychecks must have been equally obscene.

I wish Hollywood would get over its love affair with music video directors. Most of these guys are all flash, incapable of creating anything substantial that lasts longer than three minutes. “Charlie’s Angels” feels like a series of 60-second Gap ads strung together into a feature film.

Then it comes as no surprise that the director here is McG, the guy who directed those kitschy Gap ads where young people dance to old hits. “Charlie’s Angels” has the same presence of mind, a film designed as eye and ear candy guaranteed to turn your brain into mush. It doesn’t help that more than fifteen writers took a stab at the screenplay, creating a patchwork of ideas that look ugly on the bed.

I’m also fed up with screen writers whose only frame of reference is what they saw as children on television. These guys don’t write from life experience. They create situations and characters based on other situations and characters they have seen. There’s no depth or meaning to the dialogue, just enough slick talk to move on to the next series of explosions and car chases.

I understand Hollywood’s desire to mine television looking for another big hit along the lines of “The Flintstones” or “The X-Files.” These shows come with built in audiences and a nostalgia factor. “Charlie’s Angels” lacks both. It might have been a hit on television, but ask anyone if they watched the show and they will tell you no. As for the nostalgia factor, isn’t that what TV Land is for?

So instead of Farrah, Kate and Jaclyn, we get Cameron, Drew and Lucy. Like their television counterparts, the actresses spend most of the film in and out of skimpy outfits. Their hair and make-up looks great, even when they find themselves being blown sky high. It’s a 13-year-old male wet dream, great-looking, scantily clad women who fall for the geeks and can kick ass.

The Angels of 2000 kick a lot of booty, dabbling in “Matrix” style Kung-Fu that was old two weeks after that film came out. Yet it looks cool (not to me, perhaps to teenage boys), so we get to watch as Natalie (Diaz), Dylan (Barrymore) and Alex (Liu) punch, slap, kick and claw their way through their latest assignment: find a kidnaped computer whiz whose disappearance can change the world.

Tagging along is Bill Murray as their liaison Bosley, who looks so lost and dumbfounded you wonder if he was even awake when his agent brought him the script to read. What a waste of talent. Tim Curry co-stars as the villain, but his character is all snarl and snap. I was more afraid the Angels would break a nail than I was afraid of Curry.

“Charlie’s Angels” thankfully doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it still misses the mark. It’s all paint- by-numbers, with every reference and cliche jammed down our throats as if we’re too stupid to get it. You know a film is in trouble when listening to Cameron Diaz talk dirty is akin to washing your great- grandmother’s underwear by hand.

Director McG lives up to his moniker. “Charlie’s Angels” feels like fast food. It’s bland and instantly disposable. McG serves up visual flights of fancy that go in one eye and out the other. Nothing sticks in this Teflon movie.

Diaz and Barrymore will survive this fiasco. None of the actresses are allowed to build a character, just inhabit the shell of one.

The film does benefit from superior production values and some dazzling stunt work, but if you’re not willing to make an investment in the characters, everything that surrounds them is just window dressing. Cut out and print the film frames and all of this might make a pretty coffee table book. Run it through a projector and all of those pretty images become nothing more than a montage of wasted money and talent.

COMPLETE CHECK-UP

VISION: 20/20

check.gif (406 bytes) 2.35:1 Widescreen

check.gif (406 bytes) 16:9 Enhanced

The film’s colorful eye candy looks terrific on DVD, with vibrant, memorable colors and sharp, vivid attention to detail. The digital transfer is clean, pure of any artifacts or noise. The colors are absolutely breathtaking, with just the right amount of saturation and no bleeding or fading. The blacks are as solid as they come, with impressive shadow detail and virgin whites. Depth of field is amazing, going on forever without any breakup.

HEARING: Excellent

check.gif (406 bytes) 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround

check.gif (406 bytes) 2.0 Dolby Surround in French

Rock and roll. The film’s chart heavy soundtrack gives the sound system a real workout, pumping explosive tunes through every speaker. Front sound field is very specific, with excellent dialogue mix and left-to-right stereo split. Basses are powerful, while middle and high ends purr they’re so clean. Surround effects are awesome, completely enveloping you in a sound field of explosions, music and ambient noise. Rear speakers get a lot of attention, while the front-to-back spatial split sounds exact. Nicely done.

ORAL: Good

check.gif (406 bytes) Closed Captions in English for the Hard of Hearing

check.gif (406 bytes) Subtitles in French

COORDINATION: Excellent

check.gif (406 bytes) Feature-length commentary from the director and cinematographer. McG is a constant source of information, while the director of cinematography clues us in to the different techniques employed to get the film’s unique look. The enthusiasm heard here is reflective of the film’s kinetic pace.

check.gif (406 bytes) Deleted and extended scenes. They’re okay, but they really don’t add much. The Marco Polo pool game played between Curry’s villain and Murray’s Bosley seems more of a whim than an actual thought.

check.gif (406 bytes) Bloopers and outtakes. Okay, but not what it could have been. There was obviously a lot of horseplay on the set, and what we get here is just a small taste. Where’s the good stuff?

check.gif (406 bytes) Fascinating featurettes on the film’s set design, martial arts and stunts, the wire work, special effects and director. These, in my opinion, say much more about the film that the film itself. If the film were half as much fun and interesting as what went on behind the camera, “Charlie’s Angels” would have been a much better film.

check.gif (406 bytes) Two music videos by Destiny’s Child and Apollo Four Forty, who delivers a high-tech theme song.

check.gif (406 bytes) Numerous theatrical trailers, including upcoming Columbia-TriStar releases “The Adventures of Joe Dirt” and “Final Fantasy.”

check.gif (406 bytes) Awesome, colorful main and scene access menus, and a healthy dose of chapter stops.

check.gif (406 bytes) Hidden Easter Egg that shows us Drew Barrymore having a rubber mask made of her face.

check.gif (406 bytes) Production notes and talent files.

check.gif (406 bytes) DVD-ROM features including the shooting script with scene access and web links.

PROGNOSIS: Excellent

check.gif (406 bytes) Okay, I didn’t like “Charlie’s Angels” as much as the rest of the world. However, after a second viewing, and sitting through the featurettes that better explain the real tone of the film, I have no problem recommending it to fans. For them, this DVD kicks ass.

VITALS:

$24.98/Rated PG-13/99 Minutes/Color/28 Chapter Stops/Keepcase

ATTENDING RESIDENT: John Larsen

PATIENT: CHARLIE’S ANGELS

BIRTH DATE: 2000

HMO: Columbia-TriStar Home Video



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