Charlie’s Angels

By Mark Ramsey | 2000/11/01

You’re best off tying your brain to a bike rack outside the theater because, unless you’re planning to help the refreshment automatons count change, your gray matter’s better off having a smoke in the sun while the rest of you experiences the exceptionally vapid big screen version of that jiggle-TV kitsch classic: Charlie’s Angels.

Yes, it’s that elite crime-fighting team backed by an anonymous millionaire. They’ve got brains, they’ve got beauty…Well, they’ve got beauty.


I keep reminding myself that John August, who wrote the terrific movie Go, is one of the credited scribes on this flick. John must be making too many withdrawals from the Columbia Pictures Meth lab because this Go has gone.

No guns for these action figures, just karate. Rather than being armed and dangerous their arms are dangerous. What kind of A-Team world is this where the criminals seldom have guns and even more seldom hit anything with them? These Angels would be sent to Heaven lickety-split if not for the fact that one of them is the producer!

Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, and Drew Barrymore: These gals are K-Martial Arts-fighting, midriff-baring machines. Zip-zip, the girls chop away in super-speedo action sequences. They leap, twist, and fly across the sets in a highly clichéd whirl. When Keanu fought Morpheus, their weird acrobatics were explained by the altered reality of The Matrix. Here the only altered reality is Cameron’s dress size, which rounds up to a 1. Either these Angels have wings or wires – or at least strings of the bikini variety.

A little zip-zip is followed by endless high-kickin’ slow motion moves that take so long to execute, you could head to the lobby, call your broker, sell your stock in Columbia Pictures parent Sony, return to your seat, and Cameron’s foot would still be sailing through the air headed for the bad guy, but only after a quick planetary orbit and a rendezvous with the international space station.

That Cameron Diaz needs to spend less time posing and more time grazing. Side-on she’s invisible to the naked eye – and the eye is the only thing naked in this movie, by the way.

When it’s not glazed over, that is.


Okay, here’s the plot as far as I can tell. Some software guy has created technology which can turn every cell phone into a homing device. It is, as one character ominously proclaims, “the end of privacy.” Look kids, privacy ended when telemarketers decided to gang-bang my telephone four nights a week.

The plot itself is so dense you’ll need an ice-scraper to find it and a defroster to clear up the fog. “I don’t know what his plan is,” says Drew. Tell me about it. You’ll never know what’s happening, at least it’s happening fast!

After bedding down the software genius, Drew wakes up naked with a towel so cleverly wrapped around her, she could play the Broadway matinee of Fosse and somersault with the US Olympic gymnasts and it still wouldn’t slip. That’s one tenacious towel and one heckuva towel rack, if I may say!

Lucy Liu is capable of rendering a man unconscious with her feet. My dad had that same ability whenever he removed his shoes. What’s so special about that?

This movie is packed with gobs of non-sensical set-pieces: The Angels drag race, Formula One style; the Angels reverse engineer a hand from a fingerprint (now if they can only reverse engineer a brain from a screenplay); the Angels pose as leather-clad S&M motivational consultants (hey, it’s Cameron as “Bony Robbins”); Cameron dances on Soul Train; Drew dresses as Eric Stoltz; the Angels use a tuba to scan a retina in order to model contact lenses…oh don’t even ask.

Charlie’s Angels is directed by McG, who’s best known as a music video and commercial director – he’s the guy who directed the “Gap Country” spot which directly preceded The Gap’s sales slump. But hey, it’s not his fault! He just did the advertising, it’s not like that should have anything to do with sales. McG knows logical dialogue like Mickey D knows mayo in moderation.

Says McG, “dialogue is short for ‘diabolical logue,’ and is to be karate chopped out in the editing room. As for ‘plot,’ well, that’s why McGod invented Country videos.”

Say your prayers, Angels. Charlie’s Angels is an exhilarating disappointment.

Photos Copyright ©2000 Columbia Pictures


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