Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle

2003, Movie, PG-13, 110 mins


Looser, more stupidly endearing and marginally less posterior-obsessed than the first film, this glossy, mega-bucks action spectacular's soft, sweet center is the true-blue camaraderie between power-puff grrrls Dylan Sanders (Drew Barrymore), Natalie Cook (Cameron Diaz) and Alex Munday (Lucy Liu). Their men — Natalie's and Alex's boyfriends (Luke Wilson, Matt LeBlanc) and Alex's clueless dad (John Cleese) — are even more irrelevant than the average action movie's token female love interest. The crime-busting cuties continue to answer to the disembodied voice of Charlie (John Forsythe) and are abetted by a new Bosley (Bernie Mac), taking over for his brother (Bill Murray, who declined to reprise his role). The undercover angels must find and retrieve two rings which, when put together, reveal the new names and current locations of everyone who's ever entered the Federal Witness Protection plan. One relocated witness has already been murdered and more are sure to follow unless the angels get their sleuth on. A major complication hits all too close to home: Level-headed Dylan was once a teenage gutter punk named Helen Zass (stop snickering and move on), who testified against her bad, bad boyfriend, Seamus (Justin Theroux), and was rewarded with a new identity. Fresh from the slammer, vengeful Seamus is looking for payback. There's also the matter of angel emeritus Madison Lee (Demi Moore), who may have embraced the dark side. Dylan, Natalie and Alex pose as dirt bikers, nuns, crime-scene specialists, welders and — of course — strippers to further their investigation. Diaz and her dolphin-like smile regularly steal the spotlight from her co-stars, starting with the goofy spectacle she makes of herself as a flaky Scandinavian tourist riding a mechanical yak in a rough Mongolian bar. The action is ridiculously overwrought, a state-of-the-art combination of CGI wizardry and Hong Kong-style wirework so removed from the laws of physical reality that it might as well be animated. And the plot is of less consequence than the pop-culture references, star cameos, cheerfully jokey soundtrack and double entendres, which are somewhat less strenuously vulgar than those in the first film without being any more clever. Jaclyn Smith has a lovely cameo as original angel Kelly Preston, appearing to Dylan in her time of need then vanishing in a shimmer of golden light in a Tijuana dive. You couldn't ask for a more gracious acknowledgement of angels past. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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