Good, clean, ass-kicking fun with a trio of hot young ladies. Life is good.
Having nearly drowned in the acrid, choking filth of Baise-moi, I felt the need to rinse my soul clean of such utter tosh. So it was I turned to a female empowerment picture of an altogether more entertaining and palatable kind; Charlie's Angels. Born of the same summer of 2000, Charlie's Angels sees three of Hollywood's hottest (in all respects) actresses using their sex appeal for an altogether more worthy cause, namely the protection of law-abiding citizens everywhere.
The roles of Natalie, Dylan and Alex fall to Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu respectively. For anyone not familiar with the 70's TV phenomenon, the girls are a crime-fighting trio backed by an anonymous millionaire called Charles Townsend. Communicating with them only by speakerphone, Charlie assigns the girls various tough missions that require all of their skill, cunning and prowess to accomplish. Acting as middle man between the two parties is Bosley (Bill Murray), an offbeat father figure who's always there to help when the girls get into too tricky a situation
The case at hand this time around seems to be a simple kidnapping affair. Eric Knox (an early appearance from Sam Rockwell - check him out more recently in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Welcome to Collinwood) is a brilliant young programmer and founder of Knox Technologies. His latest software is a voice recognition system that can trace anyone using a phone anywhere in the world to their exact location, regardless of any voice disguising. Immediate suspicions are raised by his colleague and company vice president Vivian Wood (a still-stunning Kelly Lynch) as to the perpetrator of this scheme; namely Roger Corwin (Tim Curry camping it up wonderfully as usual), head of rival technology firm Redstar.
Without further ado, the heavenly trio set about recovering Knox and his software before Corwin can sell it on to the highest bidder. Effectively this entails them dressing up in alternately silly and revealing outfits, using their looks and ingenuity (though mostly the former) to worm their way inside Redstar HQ and it's super-secure data vault to plant a monitoring bug that will find out where the software's gone.
Discerning viewers will smell something is afoot when Knox is recovered a mere thirty minutes in after a smashing kung-fu encounter betwixt the Angles and The Thin Man (Crispin Glover), Corwin's evil-doing right hand man. Yes the bad guys aren't necessarily all that bad, and the good guys aint necessarily all that good, all of which confusion should divert most popcorn munching moviephiles long enough to finish their jumbo Coke and hot dog without straining the old grey matter too much.
Director McG, real name Joseph McGinty Nichol, had previously worked only on pop promos, and it really shows in the film's eye-popping visual techniques. No stranger to flashy editing techniques, McG aint averse to sporadic use of stop-start slomo and other such trickery. Throw in some martial arts wire work (getting a bit tiring these days, but not yet overly abused back when this came out), a couple of car chases and pretty much everything blowing up at some point or another, and he'll guarantee your retinas are seared before the 90 minutes are up.
He also knows funky music when he hears it, which is why the slick visuals are accompanied by equally slick audio candy from the likes of Prodigy and Fatboy Slim. Obviously aware of how paper-thin the rest of the movie really is, McG wisely creates enough aesthetic diversion to help paper over the gaping cracks without overcooking the whole thing into a bloody mess.
Despite all of the mayhem going on around, the stars of the show are most definitely the girls, all of whom are plainly having a blast. Murray too seems to have fun, despite rumours of on-set differences with nearly everyone, hence his non-appearance in the sequel, and there's also cameo support from the likes of Tom Green and Matt LeBlanc as two of the Angels' unsuspecting boyfriends. Luke Wilson, brother of Owen, even makes an appearance as some love interest for Natalie, but all he really gets to do is be a Really Nice Guy every 20 minutes or so.
Given that it has only a passing relation to the TV show, a frankly abominable script, and about as much character depth as a postage stamp, things have turned out remarkably well. This is a movie that's high on style, and proportionately low on pretension. It succeeds both as a girly action flick and a damn good fun movie in it's own right, and whilst it may border on the suggestive every so often, there's never any harm intended, just a good time for anyone with an hour and a half to spare. And there is, after all, no harm in that. Or Cameron Diaz in a variety of skimpy costumes. Or Lucy Liu. Or Drew Barrymore. Or Kelly Lynch. Or...I'd better go lick a window now.
Craig Disko has awarded this movie 3 out of 5 Horny Disko Mojos.
Drew Barrymore (Dylan)
Lucy Liu (Alex)
Sam Rockwell (Eric Knox)
Kelly Lynch (Vivian Wood)
Bill Murray (Bosley)
Tim Curry (Roger Corwin)
Crispin Glover (The Thin Man)