Full Throttle

I was thinking about undergoing a frontal lobotomy this weekend. Instead, I went to a matinee showing of “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.” Same thing. Not only did I save a butt-load of money, the operation only took an hour-and-a-half and didn’t leave a visible scar. Anyone thinking about undergoing a similar experience this weekend might want to take along their own anesthesiologist, because even though the film will leave you feeling numb, it won’t stop the lingering pain.

I wasn’t a fan of the first film, but over time and after many, many stiff drinks, I was able to forgive the big screen adaptation of the kitsch seventies jiggle show. Now comes “Full Throttle,” which takes the worst elements of the first film and reduces them to a 100 minute music video, directed by someone whose prescription of Ritalin ran out months before filming began. Aimed solely at fourteen-year-old boys who can’t seem to get enough “Matrix” influenced fight sequences and bawdy innuendo, “Full Throttle” plays like an out-of-control video game with broken control pads.

There’s no stopping the constant barrage of “hip” images that flash across the screen, leaving even those without a history of epilepsy in a drooling stupor. This is what happens when you let people with lots of money and little sense loose in a movie candy store. I’ve encountered rabid pit bulls with less aggressiveness than director McG and writers John August, Cormac Wibberley, and Marianne Wibberley. They chew up and spit out every imaginable teenage male fantasy without regard, making every frame of this film as disposable as toilet paper.

Obviously McG and the writers knew they were playing to an undiscerning audience, delivering a story that lacks cohesiveness and imagination. The plot is nothing more than connected vignettes, providing as many opportunities as possible to get the gals in and out of various costumes. One moment they’re professional wrestlers, the next they’re nuns, then moto-cross riders. It doesn’t make much sense, but then what do you expect for a film called “Full Throttle”?

In their defense, Drew Barrymore as Dylan, Cameron Diaz as Natalie, and Lucy Liu as Alex, seem to be having a good time, kind of like little girls who enjoy playing dress-up with their mother’s clothes. They’re no better or no worse than the one-dimensional Aaron Spelling clones who inhabited the television series, each one given a personality trait so we can tell them apart. They’re joined this outing by Bernie Mac as Bosley, their liaison to “Charlie” (the voice of John Forsythe). Mac replaces Bill Murray, whose dead pan humor was one of the saving graces of the first film. Mac isn’t bad, but he’s no Bill Murray.

The Angels assignment in “Full Throttle” is to retrieve a ring engraved with the new names of people in the Witness Relocation Program. It’s a silly piece of business, one that makes no sense, except to serve as a jumping off point for the film’s endless montage of high kicks, chases, contrived to the point of being incidental romantic pairings, and a face off with Madison Lee (Demi Moore), a former Angel now working for herself.

There’s also a cameo by former television Angel Jaclyn Smith, giving us five Angels for the price of three. More is not better, especially Moore, who still looks hot and healthy, but is just as plastic as the outfits her character is forced to wear. This isn’t a case where she’s good in a bad movie, she’s bad in a bad movie. Not like she and the rest of the cast even stood a chance. In their attempt to make “Full Throttle” bigger and louder than the first film, McG and the writers force the actors to play to the balcony, even though the camera is only ten feet away.

Other characters from the first film wander into the frame just long enough to smile and reassure the audience that they’re on familiar territory. Luke Wilson returns as Natalie’s boyfriend, but he’s more underused here than in the recent “Alex and Emma.” Matt LeBlanc shows up as Alex’s actor boyfriend Jason, attempting to explain to her father (John Cleese, sadly) what she does for a living. This little bit of business, which deals with one misunderstanding after another, could have and would have been funny if the writers and director had left the two men to their own devices.

“Full Throttle” looks great, with sharp cinematography and pulsating music and editing, but former music video director McG never allows a cut to go on longer than a few seconds. It doesn’t make the film go by faster, it just makes it more annoying.


“Full Throttle” is more of the same, only worse


Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, Demi Moore, Bernie Mac, Crispin Glover, Justin Theroux, Robert Patrick. Directed by McG. Rated PG-13. 105 Minutes.


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