The premise from the original was simple: A reclusive millionaire assembles a trio of brilliant (and awfully purty) women -- each unique in background and talents -- and together
wait for it
they fight crime! Every week the Angels were presented with the crime du jour, and every week the Angels would kick some criminal ass (all the while wearing revealing clothing and maintaining nearly perfect coiffures). The premise for the recent Charlies Angels is the same, with the exception of skin-tight Levis replacing skin-tight Jordache. And like the show, the contemporary Charlies Angels has something resembling a plot: A genius computer engineer is kidnapped, his nifty invention stolen, and its up to the Angels to save the geek and recover the hardware. Kinda dull, to be honest, and then they throw in a twist concerning a diabolical revenge plot to kill the Angels benefactor, Charles Townsend. This turns out to be rather lame, as well.
Granted, considering the material, I doubt that the scriptwriters (Im referring to both Bobo and Bonzo) were expected to compose cinematic poetry. We all know the plot is merely a vehicle to showcase the babes
and showcase the babes it does. If T & A is your thing, buddy, than this is the movie for you. But before you whip out the Hollycrap Video card and a fresh box of Kleenex, it should be noted that were talking T & A of the PG-13 variety, which boils down to lots of cleavage
and lots of (clothed) butt shots. On a related note, I also counted at least five slow-motion hair tosses, yet I was hard-pressed to find a sponsorship credit for Head and Shoulders.
Gratuitous semi-nudity aside, Ill admit that unlike big-screen remakes such as Inspector Gadget, Lost in Space and The Avengers, Charlies Angels is actually full of good ideas. They knew what it would take to turn the seventies TV hit into a contemporary box-office success: big name stars, lots of modern special effects, and plenty o campy capers (because nobody takes the 70s seriously anymore, do they?). They got the celebrities, the special effects are decent enough, and nobody seems to be taking the material too seriously. So why does the film ultimately fail?
In a word: McG.
No, thats not a seasonal burger made available to you from Burger Clown, its the director. Just reading the name one can easily surmise that the individual is an idiot. No wait, I
meant a video director. And like most films by video directors -- The Replacement Killers coming immediately to mind -- you can expect lots of nifty things like smoke, slow-motion and wacky camera tricks. Unfortunately, thats about all you should expect. (Before you Fight Club and Seven Fans shoot me an angry e-mail, Ill be the first to admit that David Fincher is an exception; a rare exception, but an exception nonetheless.)
No story is one thing -- I mean, this is Charlies Angels - but whats really amazing is how McG allowed some great actors to simply sleepwalk through their roles. Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore appear to be having a blast playing two of the Angels. Diaz, in
particular, is funny as the naive blonde Natalie (and I am, by no means, a Cameron Diaz fan). Lucy Liu, on the other hand, appears to be simply
biding her time until the check clears. I could live with Lucy Liu being the only weak link to the film. Ive never been impressed with her work anyway. But the inconsistencies dont stop there.
In the spirit of giving credit where its due, let me start off by saying that hiring Bill Murray, Crispin Glover and Tim Curry was a smart move. They are all great actors, and in theory, perfect for their respective roles. On paper, Bill Murray as the hapless liaison between the Angels and Charlie is perfect. Its just a shame he seems so uninspired. Sure, Bill Murray is one of the few people that can half-ass his lines and still be funny, but its nothing compared to when hes truly
focused. Tim Curry is wasted as the assumed villain, Roger Corbin. Hes provided about ten minutes of screen-time and given very little to do with it. Dont squander Tim Curry on such drivel. Get Michael Ironside next time. And whoever thought Crispin Glover would make a terrifically creepy villain was absolutely right; a true flash of casting brilliance. But like Curry, he too is wasted in what essentially turns out to be an extended cameo. Despite having a bit role and absolutely no lines (outside maniacal screeching), Glover more than holds his own. Sam Rockwell makes a convincing villain, but I wouldve switched
the two without a second thought. Luke Wilson is likeable as Natalies love interest (the Soul Train scene was fairly amusing), and Matt LeBlanc is given the four minutes of fame he deserves
(playing, of all things, a bad actor). You can ask Jabootu as to what should be done about Tom Green.
I enjoy shallow entertainment as much as the next guy, but its going to take a lot more than kooky camera tricks and slow-motion to sustain my interest over the span of, say, 3 minutes. I thought it was great when Motley Crue took on an army of ninja assassins in an over-stylized brawl for their video Too Young to Fall in Love, but does that mean I want to watch an hour and a half of it? OK, I admit that I probably would - but Motley Crue is the exception. The point is, you cant fill an hour and a half with nothing but pointless eye-candy (not to mention a total disregard for such trivialities as performance or intrigue). I mean, do we really need to watch people walk down a flight of stairs in slow-motion? McG seems to think so.
-- Copyright © 2002 by J. Bannerman
This review is but a part of the B-Masters Cabal Roundtable Review entitled:
Fish Without Bicycles
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