Charlie's Angels Reviews
With technology at our fingertips, unlike his four-channel, 1970s upbringing, we could seek out the best of the best on Netflix, where we (and sometimes still) would order individual discs that comprised a given season of a given series. As we had a designated television watching time (from 8-9 pm on school nights), we would, most of the time, wait until Friday for bingeing, as it was a day in which we could stay up late and do our viewing in the company of pizza, pop, and little disturbance. Some of my greatest childhood memories revolve around watching TV of the yesteryear - call me crazy, but I was more inclined to keep up with Pamela Sue Martin's "Nancy Drew Mysteries" than go out and do reckless things. Granted, I was in elementary school, and the most reckless thing I was capable of doing was sneaking a cookie before dessert. But if only I, now in college, weren't still that way.
I have no doubt that my sister can relate to the same nostalgia I'm so unabashedly spewing out, which is why, a year or so ago, we began watching "Charlie's Angels," which was an act of spontaneity that also represented an attempt to harken back to the days of our childhood. I suppose she loves '70s junk more than I do - she's a ninth grader drawing a "The Partridge Family" era Susan Dey for crying out loud - but most of our after school free time during my senior year was spent with Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, and Kate Jackson, and, when Farrah left, Cheryl Ladd. We stopped around the time Shelley Hack came around, but the show was a terrific one for our relationship; as we were both old enough to recognize its many ridiculous instances of acting, dialogue, and plot points, laughs would abound between us like some sort of riled up sitcom audience. In everyday conversation, we still reference an episode in which Jaclyn got shot in the head and woke up the next day only with a minor bandage, her makeup, hair, and mental state, intact.
So maybe that's why I like 2000's "Charlie's Angels," a love-it-or-hate-it action movie, with such vigor. It captures the sheer buffooneries and implausibilities of the TV series and modernizes them, with golden era MTV swank, a giddy sense of humor, and enough kung-fu style battles to make it worthy of praise and not just a couple of giggles. For some, its hyperactive energy and resembling of a music video might cause it to come across as shallow filmmaking suffering from the ever familiar disorder of liking style over substance. But its director, McG (if you can believe it), is able to bridge the gap between extreme style (think Baz Luhrmann Meets "Miami Vice") and a bubbly personality - the film is so in love with itself and its goofiness that we're taken aback how much we come to like it, too.
Because who can resist a film in which its ensemble appears to be having the time of their lives, in which farce is let so loose? Its titular Angels are Dylan (Drew Barrymore), Natalie (Cameron Diaz), and Alex (Lucy Liu), who, if you don't already know by now, are crimefighters that work for an anonymous millionaire named Charlie (voiced by John Forsythe), who remains unseen by them and us but serves as the coordinator of their investigations. With his assistant Bosley (Bill Murray) prepared to work with them in times of crisis, the girls are free-spirited but efficient detectives able to utilize their versatile talents and merge them when danger arises.
Their latest assignment involves Eric Knox (Sam Rockwell), a software mastermind who has recently been kidnapped by ominous figures. The creator of a potentially globe shattering technological creation that employs an impressive voice-activation system, his disappearance could spell disaster for his company and the population as a whole. Who knows what his work could be capable of when thrown into the wrong hands?
With brains to match their beauty, it doesn't take the Angels long to get to the bottom of the case and figure out what's really going on, which is, expectedly, a hell of a lot more elaborate than what they're first presented with. But fear not; intrigue is their middle name, and Dylan, Natalie, and Alex aren't ace investigators at the top of their respective pay scales for nothing.
Whether "Charlie's Angels" is a satire of its source material, though, is a proclamation I'm not so certain of. It, really, seems to make a mockery of anything Hollywood: it's a mockery of the chick flick, the action movie, the kung-fu razzler dazzler, the romantic drama, the buddy cop comedy, the arthouse thriller your friend dragged you to and you only vaguely enjoyed (I'm looking at you "Run Lola Run"). And, being wrapped in its breathy package of candy colors and illimitable vibrations, I'm disposed to consider it to be something better than your average escapist fantasy, something of the time, and something I could watch repeatedly (which I have) and still like as much as my first viewing.
Because "Charlie's Angels," like the TV show, doesn't make for anything necessarily nutritious or even that great - it, plain and simply, is a blockbuster so high in its artistic ambition, performative likability (Barrymore, Diaz, and Liu are all kick-ass hoots), and overall stamina that defying its cheery fun is akin to eating a bowl of ice cream and then asking your server for a refund for supposed bad taste. If you know you liked it, there's no shame in consuming cinematic junk food once in a while. "Charlie's Angels" just happens to be particularly tasty.
Three super intelligent and super skilled spies who work under a mysterious unseen millionaire named Charlie attempt to solve a kidnapping scheme of a tech giant, only to find out that looks are very deceiving. There's not so much of a big plot here, it's basically thrown into the middle of a deep friendship between the main characters and their unimportant love lives.
Charlie's Angels seems to me like it was a very overhyped film pre-release and, like it did for me, disappointed viewers, only I had a sense of what I was in for. Despite its all star cast, ranging from Drew Barrymore to Tim Curry to Bill Murray, the film fails the most in actually telling a consistent, real story. The characters, who are almost all the same - bland and girly - are more important and more focused on than the weak story. Their friendship, Bill Murray's wacky escapades (which, by the way, as much as I love Murray, his character is completely and utterly unneeded), and their dull, lifeless new relationships make Charlie's Angels more of a soap opera than a supposedly action packed femme fatale. When it does get into the action, it is fast paced and to the point. The super sleuth aspect of cracking who's behind what is effortless to say the least. Get used to the feel of the film, because it constantly stays overly fast paced and especially corny. I think maybe the one thing I did enjoy about Charlie's Angels is how hilariously terrible it is at holding up today - it's the epitome of 2000, with outdated technology, late 90s alt hits, etc. Charlie's Angels is nothing special - don't let its cast deceive you.
The leads are charming and the film is just plain fun. Don't take it too seriously. You won't enjoy it if you're an uptight film critic.