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Charlie's Angels

  ...and that's why things keep repeating themselves in groundhog day
Drew Barrymore, Bill Murray, Lucy Liu, and Cameron Diaz share a quiet moment between explosions and jiggles.

2000, Columbia
All Rights Reserved

Well, if you're going to steal from "The Matrix," this is how you do it.

Watching "Charlie's Angels" is like eating a giant Lollapalooza Sundae from the local ice cream shop. It's big, bright, and every bite feels like a million bucks. But you just keep eating and eating...

One of the few bright spots in the 2000 movie year, "Angels" is the rare film that actually delivers on promises of excitement and cutting edge entertainment. Far too much of "Angels" is familiar, but I haven't crossed a film that was so ferocious in its willingness to please the audience. The fun is infectious, and "Charlie's Angels" is an unexpected blast. Ninety-eight minutes of undiluted amphetamine.

I could go into the plot, but what would be the point? The idea for "Angels" is to have as much amusement as possible and never stop for air. There is something loosely strung together about satellites and the global loss of privacy, but "Angels" is far too swift to be bothered with the details. All you need to know is that three super-agents (Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu) — with the help of their boss Bosely (Bill Murray) — team up to fight evil in the form of a wealthy Bond-ian villain (Tim Curry). Along the way things blow up, people are kicked into oblivion, and the red hot soundtrack blares hits old and new. "Charlie's Angels" is based on the 1970's television show of the same name, but the proceedings are strictly 2000.

When was the last time you actually had fun with an action movie? That's right, I can't think of one either. "Angels" is the type of adrenaline rush that reminds you what going to the movies is all about. Crying about logic is not allowed, nor is complaining about the "Matrix"-inspired fight choreography. "Angels" is unabashed when it comes to borrowing moves from the aforementioned movie and thousands of Hong Kong imports that have found acceptance in the United States in recent years. "Angels" is actually choreographed by a section of the team behind "The Matrix," and the intricate work that goes into making these sequences fly never ceases to amaze. There are a ton of wire stunts in "Angels," and all give the fight scenes a wonderful sense of balletic grace mixed with raw violence. There's nothing like watching two people fly across the room at each other at 50 miles per hour, or watching Drew Barrymore bloody five guys with her feet while her hands are bound together. Couple that with some exceptionally tight editing, and there are enough whiz-bang moments to fill a church. The wires do bend reality quite a bit but "Angels" never winks at the camera when it comes to the fight stunts.

However, winking is in full effect with the script. Dipping a toe in cheese now and again, "Angels" wears the silly ribbon with pride. It isn't camp, yet it really isn't meant to be taken seriously. I give credit to stars Barrymore, Diaz, and Liu for keeping straight faces in situations that might have solicited otherwise. Diaz especially is wonderful as the dim but dangerous Angel, Natalie. Even after "There's Something About Mary," it's a delight to see Diaz so radiant. The entire cast seems to be enjoying themselves, and the festivity onscreen certainly rubs off on the audience. Extra points go to whoever decided to make weirdo actor Crispin Glover ("Back to the Future") into a gravity-defying supervillian. That takes guts.

Director McG is a veteran of music videos and commercials, and nothing elicits more horror than reading that kind of resume. Despite being descended from the Michael Bay school of filmmaking, it is a pleasure to report that McG seems to have little in common with the monster director of "Armageddon." Keeping his edit count down and allowing the audience to actually see what's going on in the frame, McG appears to be a decent director with a penchant for old tricks. The fight scenes, as do the montages, play a bit like the MTV videos we see everyday, but their stylistic kick has not been diluted. McG employs some of these old tricks with his constant changing of film speeds and jukebox selection of music hits; however his style, as familiar as it is, is sharp and he fashions one hell of a slick film with "Angels." Lensed by James Cameron's shooter Russell Carpenter, "Angels" looks pristine and accomplished, and gives McG a nice base to form his anxious camerawork around. Also saddled with that modern burden of selling a soundtrack, McG knows where to place the needledrops. It's a skill I wish more directors shared.

Taken into account the eye-rolling factor of a movie based on an old TV show, it softens the heart to see "Charlie's Angels" be the raging entertainment that it is. Considering that I have been burned too many times by this concept ("Beverly Hillbillies" anyone?), I am the first to cry foul. But "Charlie's Angels" is fun with a capital F. It delivers the goods where other movies don't even consider the possibilities.

Filmfodder Grade: A








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