Charlie's Angels

2000, Movie, PG-13, 98 mins


So inconsequential that it starts evaporating from memory the minute it's over, this big-screen version of the '70s TV show is pleasant enough (if occasionally disconcertingly vulgar) while you're watching. In another context, that might be damnation by faint praise, but under these circumstances it's as good as it gets, though why it took ten screenwriters (three credited) at least a dozen rewrites to craft something so ephemeral is anyone's guess. The crime-busting "Angels" are gorgeous geek-girl Natalie (Cameron Diaz), cool and commanding Alex (Lucy Liu), and pouty Dylan (Drew Barrymore, one of the movie's producers), a barely grown-up wild child. As in the popular but deeply stupid series (whose original stars — Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith — declined to make cameo appearances here), they answer to a mysterious millionaire who's only ever heard on the phone (John Forsythe, reprising his series role) and who sends them on a mission involving a kidnapped computer geek (Sam Rockwell), his steely partner (Kelly Lynch), their flamboyant competitor (Tim Curry), a silent villain (Crispin Glover) and some purloined voice-recognition software, the misuse of which could mean the end of privacy as we know it. Frankly, who cares? The preposterous plot is just an excuse for these cheese-puff girls to go undercover as belly dancers, race-car drivers, geisha girls and the like, and to mix it up in insanely stylized action sequences masterminded by Hong Kong fight choreographer Yuen Cheung Yan (brother of CROUCHING TIGER choreographer Yuen Wo Ping). The tone is equal parts exuberant hokiness and affectionately ironic self-awareness (a reference to "T.J. Hooker — The Movie" gets a big laugh), though the movie's posterior ogling is a little off-putting. (Movies this ass-obsessed are usually located in the gay-porn section of your local video store). Bill Murray plays the Angels' sidekick, Bosley, while Tom Green (Barrymore's significant other) is simply awful as Dylan's swain, Chad; for him, even this small role is still far too large. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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