Dumb-De-Dumb-Dumb! Charlie’s Angels is a monumentally stupid movie of a monumentally stupid television show from the 1970s. This is not to say that is a bad thing. While the film drastically loses its punch when it goes into martial arts and music video film-making overdrive, it does have a fairly game cast, enough laughs and one-liners to keep one’s attention span just long enough not to get completely bored (and when that happens, there is plenty of jiggle and wiggle to wake one up).
As with the television show, the Angels are private detectives who work for Charlie, a man they have never met, except by speakerphone. There is Natalie (Cameron Diaz), Dylan (Drew Barrymore, who also co-produced the film) and Alex, three beauties who, teamed with their immediate supervisor, Bosley (Bill Murray), are hired to locate a kidnapped high-tech whiz named Eric Knox (Sam Rockwell). Knox has created a voice-recognition gizmo that, if it falls into the wrong hands, could be big-time trouble.
I could pretty much write a fifty-page thesis on what is wrong with this film, but keeping in the spirit of the attention span of the filmmakers (and the audience that will no doubt flock in herds to see it and love it), I’ll keep it short. The screenplay, hobbled together by no less than 17 people (but only credited to three), has less going for it than an episode of the original ABC television series. When it sticks to comedy, the film is fun to watch. But when it shifts into action mode or attempts to get just the slightest bit serious, it becomes a chore to sit through (this is a pretty long 92 minutes).
It comes as no surprise that the person credited with directing the film is a music-video hack, this one going by the name of McG. If there is a camera trick to be used in order to stimulate the viewer (as if the ladies weren’t enough), he uses it. Great for a video game or a music video, not for a $92 million feature film. If anyone should get any sort of credit for piecing this together and making sense of the assembled footage, it would be the editing department.
Cameron Diaz comes off best of the Angels; her comic timing makes her stand head and shoulders above the others (her dancing scene on Soul Train is very, very funny). Drew Barrymore seems a bit lost at times (although she has the best one-liner towards the end of the film) and Lucy Liu really needs to lighten up and get over herself if she wants to continue to have a film career (oh, and she needs to develop some acting talent too). Bill Murray makes the best of his limited screen time, as does Crispin Glover as the creepy martial arts heavy. Sam Rockwell, usually a lively screen presence, seems subdued in his role. Matt LeBlanc, Kelly Lynch, Tim Curry and that one-ball wonder Tom Green all have small and forgettable supporting roles.
Charlie’s Angels will never be mistaken for a real film or for that matter, a really fun film. It unfolds in front of you and on occasion, you snap out of your cinematic daze and have a laugh while gawking in wide-eyed wonder at the visual splendor of Diaz, Barrymore and Liu. There is a lot of room for improvement in the sequel, starting with having a script when production begins. Dropping the music vidiot director and giving Murray more screen time will also add to overall impact.