"Charlie’s Angle" the cinema’s newspaper ad said, so it could have been an attempt to hide the fact that it was really Charlie’s Angels. The trailer had been so cheesy and awful it wouldn’t have been surprising.
Surprisingly though, if you can stomach the blatant exploitation of the Angels’ boobs and bums – even though at times the movie claims to be mocking this exploitation, it nonetheless conveniently employs it – this is actually a sporadically entertaining movie. Forget the sleepy action, forget the plot full of holes, don’t look for anything intelligent and you might find yourself enjoying the ride.
Cameron Diaz (who plays naive Natalie), Lucy Liu (who plays smart Alex) and Drew Barrymore (who plays tough Dylan) together make up the Angels respectively in this cinematic version of the TV-series that ran from 1976 to 1981.
They’re out to show that they can be sexy, smart, and physically strong too. That is, the camera lingers gratuitously on their often rather impractical outfits, they can speak Japanese and defuse the occasional bomb, and they’re not at all bad at their martial arts.
Director "McG" has a history of directing video clips and commercials and it certainly shows, with the film itself really being just a platform for various sloppy action scenes – despite the participation of Hong Kong specialist Yuen Cheung Yan – and low-brow comedy sketches.
The movie kicks off with yet another of the latex-mask tricks Hollywood has not yet tired of using before getting down to the real show.
Natalie, Alex and Dylan are the elite fighting force behind the Charles Townsend Detective Agency. The women are hired to rescue a kidnapped computer software king (Sam Rockwell) from a rival (Tim Curry), but end up in a race to save their forever-faceless boss (the voice of John Forsythe) instead. A movie has never been easier to summarise in less than fifty words.
Much is made of 70s kitsch in the film, which is kind of fun, but not awfully clever. And the self-parodying is just not clever enough to be sustained for a full-length film. But it’s still mildly amusing.
Cameron Diaz will spend the rest of her career trying to live up to her performance in Being John Malkovich, where she actually acted, and well. Angels has merely given her an(other) opportunity to wriggle her bum and smile a lot, making her the most boring of the three Angels.
Drew Barrymore is feisty and plays with some guts, but it’s Lucy Liu, with her deadpan delivery and masterly performance in the dastardly dominatrix scene, who steals the show. And she was the lowest paid of the three "stars". Ah, Hollywood.
Bill Murray plays Bosley, the Angels’ handler. While a welcome face on the big screen, the script nevertheless relies more on his history of comedy than his actual lines in this film to grab laughs. In other words, audiences who have learned to enjoy his style of delivering lines will find him to be the best thing about the film, while those who haven’t will wonder who on earth the script writers were.
Charlie’s Angels doesn’t promise to deliver a lot, and it doesn’t. So extra points for honesty, but minus for not trying in the first place.