Charlie’s Angels

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 angelsHere’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 “Three’s Company.”

It’s hard to believe that anyone, much less a major Hollywood studio, could be sucker punched into making a film like this. 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.

How else could they explain their presence in what amounts to celluloid diarrhea?

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 kidnapped 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’s bad guy.

“Charlie’s Angels” thankfully doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it still misses the mark. There’s no real sense of fun. 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 benefits 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.


Charlie’s Angels get their wings clipped


Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, Bill Murray, Kelly Lynch, Tim Curry, Luke Wilson, Tom Green, Sam Rockwell in a film directed by McG. Rated PG-13. 98 Minutes.


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